Love & Sex Magazine

Relationship Tip—in an Argument, Time is Not on Your Side

By Barbarajpeters @CouplesAuthor

“It’s always too hot in here for me,” Feng frowned as he sat on the living room couch with his pretty wife. “I’m sizzling here, and the heating bills are burning up our paychecks. Let’s turn the thermostat down.”

ku-medium“Yeah, but where you want it, it’s too cold in this room,” Suxiang insisted. “What good would a frozen-solid wife be to you? Who would make you sweet and sour carp?”

He reached to the coffee table, picked up a magazine, and pointed to a picture of actress Zhang Ziyi on the cover of a dog-eared issue of People.

“I’m a rare husband,” Feng told her. “But you are turning me into well-done.”

Frustrated at this ever-repeating disagreement and his ongoing admiration for the movie star, she threw a couch pillow at him.

He got up slowly and headed for the door.

“Where are you going, Mr. Hot Stuff?” she asked sarcastically.

“To the corner bar and out of this heat,” he said, wiping his brow dramatically. “No reptile ladies there.”

“Can I help it if my lineage is part cold-blooded?” she yelled angrily as he left.  

What went wrong here, and what’s the antidote?

We all get angry, and we all argue with the people we love. Conflict can be beneficial. We need to hear another point of view, and we need to challenge ourselves to see things from a different perspective. Resentment, however, is never healthy.

When you argue with someone you care about, time is not on your side. Do not let the situation fester without a resolution, or resentment will build up. In this case, the couple is going on way too long with a difficulty that could be resolved with a compromise and some creative imagination. They’re expressing their feelings, but they’re not problem solving.

We expect a relationship to be a caring union. A central theme to its success lies in how anger gets communicated and whether or not it turns into the debilitating emotion of resentment. The term resentment means “the feeling of displeasure or indignation at something regarded as an injury or insult.”

Always make sure you understand the point of view of your partner, and where that person is coming from. Do not treat the other person’s issues as minimal.

Ask questions. Doing so may sound like this: “If I change my behavior about  ———, will you let go of your anger?”

Suxiang finally realized that if they were going to be with each other for the rest of their lives, that something practical was going to have to be done. She and Feng sat down to get real about a solution. She approached Feng with the idea of setting the thermostat partially down to a level Feng could handle, but also purchasing a good space heater to put next to her side of the couch. She decided that she would stay warm enough while busy cooking, but asked Feng if he would clean up and do the dishes each night.

He readily agreed, and the very next day brought her the heater, a pretty hoodie sweater, and a luxurious down comforter for the couch. She fixed sweet and sour carp, and he cleaned up. Later they snuggled in bed, relieved that the thermostat no longer had the power to ruin their marriage.

Healthy disagreements are purposeful and allow you to be yourself and face the cause. You can then set boundaries and determine what you need to do in response. Your angry feelings should not be used to punish, intimidate, control, or manipulate the other person. Rather, use your feelings to express your viewpoint. Then enter into a discussion to resolve the situation. If your feelings are stuffed down or ignored, your silence can become resentment. This pain, in turn, can create physical, mental, and emotional problems.


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