You rarely see a man physically running away from his wife during an argument. Maybe someone should though. It would surely be surprising and it might turn the argument around altogether.
My husband sometimes does the overly obvious and awkward “sliding sideways out of the room” when I go off. And most times I have just enough self-irony, to see the fun in that.
But just as often, the “running away” is much more subtle and harder to detect. Here are some signs to look for:
- He stops looking at you with interest
- He resigns to silence or just mumbling sounds
- He glances at his phone or even picks it up and starts to scroll the news, answer texts, or whatever (okay, that’s not super subtle)
Learn to have better arguments
Why does this happen? Why does he run away – if not physically then mentally? My best guess is that your husband is overwhelmed. It’s rarely a sign of indifference, even though it may seem like it. More likely, your husband feels trapped in the frame of the argument.
So what can you do to help your husband (and yourself) in this situation? How do you learn to have better arguments?
Rather than escalating the argument, which can be tempting to do, when he seems to resign from it, my best advice is to take a breather and show him a better way. In other words: stop the accident (the running away) before it happens. Both your relationship and your arguments may come out stronger on the other side.
Next, I’m sharing with you, two of my favorite argument hacks. I call them “hanging up” and “make it easy”.
Try “hanging up the phone”
Sometimes a timeout can be good for both the argument and the relationship. My husband and I use the term “hanging up the phone” when an argument starts to feel unproductive or hurtful. The idea goes back to when we first started dating. We talked on the phone a lot back then. Yes, people did that. And sometimes, during an argument, we would agree to hang up the phone and call back 10 minutes later.
It still amazes me what can happen in just 10 minutes, when you’re left alone with your thoughts, in the middle of an argument, with no one around to yell at. Words said (both his and yours) tend to echo in your head for a while. And then there is silence. Which gives you a chance to gain some perspective and most importantly: connect emotionally to your man.
I will admit, some arguments need more than 10 minutes timeout, but most times we would pick up the phone and both be able to apologize. Sometimes we would need to continue the conversation because we disagreed on something important. But just as often, we buried the argument right there.
These days the phone is no longer our primary way of communicating. But we still use the term “hanging up” from time to time, when an argument needs air.
I should warn you though. If both you and your husband like a loud heated argument, this will take the fun out of it. Imagine you’re holding lit fireworks in your hand. Now throw it into a bucket of water and watch it cool off almost instantly. It’s like that.
Make it easier for him to stay
Hanging up the phone (fictive or physical) is one way of having better arguments. As long as you make sure to call back of course. Otherwise, it becomes this passive-aggressive thing, and nobody wins.
Another approach to better arguments is to make it easier for your husband to stay present when the argument heats up or goes into overtime.
You and your husband aren’t the same. We say that opposites attract. Often, there is both truth and beauty in that. But when we passionately disagree on something, we easily forget the beauty in our differences.
I find that when I make room for my husband’s unique personality trades in our arguments, we have… Ta-da: better arguments.
Here are some of my ideas (they work for my husband):
- Go for a walk while arguing. The air and the chance of scenery often release perspective. And silent pauses don’t seem quite so frustrating when you’re walking. It may even give nourish to more nuanced argumentation.
- Take a drive while arguing. And let him drive (this is important). It gives him a sense of control and something tactile to focus on while sorting out his thoughts. And I genuinely want to hear his thoughts.
- Pick the right time for an argument. Over the years, I’ve learned my lesson. Don’t start an argument while watching motorsport. It’s not rocket science. It’s just easier to fully engage in a demanding conversation when you’re not occupied with something more fun.
- Try serving a beer with the argument. That also works.
Bottom line. A long term relationship needs air. It needs forgiveness. And at times, a good load of self-irony.
Remember that we argue with the people we love. Because the relationship matters. It’s a good thing.