My friend and I were talking about her marriage the other day, and how she’s been having more arguments lately.
As we were talking about what was going on, it made me realize that; when it comes to arguments, long distance relationships are just like regular relationships.
A lot of times arguments happen because one person doesn’t feel like the other person is really listening or understanding why they are so frustrated.
The other person then gets frustrated because the original person doesn’t understand why they are so upset.
Then it just becomes this big ball of not understanding each other’s feelings that leads to chaos.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Learning how to effectively communicate your problems with your partner will help get rid of misunderstandings.
11 Easy Steps for Handling Arguments in a Long Distance Relationship
When we first started dating Tuomas wasn’t really able to tell me what was bugging him if something came up.
It could be because he is Finnish and Finns only express their true feelings in a sauna 😆
Or it could be because he didn’t feel like he was truly able to trust me yet. Which is completely understandable.
At that point I was a new person in his life asking him to tell me all his deepest fears and desires.
Over time we had to figure out together what would be the best way to handle arguments when they occur in our distance relationship.
Start With a Video Call
We have found that when the conversation is starting to get serious we need to have a video call.
A video call helps lay out the foundation to all the steps I am going to cover.
Having a video call helps create a safe space where we are in touch with each other’s feelings.
It also limits distractions by allowing us to see each other’s reactions so that way nothing can be misinterpreted.
Another reason why I think video calls are crucial during arguments is that it aligns with my love language of quality time. Which brings me to my next point.
Remember the Love Languages
Think back to what your love language is. If you or your partner are Words of Affirmation then insults would be very hurtful.
Words are powerful weapons to those with that love language.
If y’all’s love language is acts of service then hopping on a video call to talk things out shows that you are willing to address and fix the problem.
Or if your love language is gifts then being present and responsive is the gift.
Sometimes I get really frustrated because of work and I want to complain to my Snowman.
However it’s hard for him to just listen to me complain because he feels like there is nothing he can do about it.
And I’m not words of affirmation so honestly anything he says I don’t find comforting.
Honestly I just need a hug 😫
Which goes with the love languages of quality time and physical touch.
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Create a Safe Space
Nothing is scarier in an argument than the fear of not being able to express yourself. This fear can stem from many thoughts, but they are usually what if thoughts.
My partner makes fun of me?
They think what I am upset about is stupid?
Or they don’t take what I have to say seriously?
That’s some scary stuff right? You and your partner are on a team, your each other’s star player.
Imagine if your star player came to you with a fear. Are you going to tell them to suck it up and get back in the game?
If you do that, I can promise you it’s not going to go well 😞
This is when you need to hear your star player out. Without judgement and sarcasm.
Create a safe space for your partner by allowing them to be vulnerable and express what they are truly feeling.
If you are in an international long distance relationship like my Snowman and I, then English might not be their first or second language.
Which means your partner may not have the confidence to express themselves fully to you.
Then that means your partner is not only fearing your response but also fearing how they will sound in your dominant language.
Now that you have created a safe space for you and your partner to talk in, it’s time to listen.
Active listening is having full concentration on what your partner is saying. That means letting your partner talk without interruptions.
This can be hard to do but a lot of time when you are arguing everyone wants their opinion to be heard.
So if you need to respond to something your partner said, write it down and wait until it’s your turn to talk.
Another way to show active listening is through body language. This is why I said when it’s something serious my Snowman and I do a video call.
When you are making eye contact, nodding, and mmhmm-ing, these are the subtle signs that let your partner know that you are engaged in the conversation.
This sign allows your partner to speak more freely and honestly about what is really bothering them.
Just remember not to overuse the mhmm-ing 😉
When you and your partner are arguing it is really easy to blame the other person. Sometimes you don’t even realize you’re blaming them.
“You’re making me so angry”
That is a perfect example of how we can place blame on our partners without even realizing we are blaming them. In those times we need to take a step back and reflect.
Is it really my partner that is making me angry or am I just in my feelings at the moment?
Because really, your partner doesn’t control the way you feel. You are the only person that can control your own emotions. Instead, try the I approach.
“I feel like I am not being heard which makes me angry”.
When you take a step back to reflect on why you are feeling out of touch with your emotions, it also helps your partner understand your emotions.
Validate Your Partner
This is the other side of the coin when it comes to active listening. When you validate your partner you are letting them know that you understand where they are coming from.
This is also the time to ask questions. If you’re not understanding what the issue is then ask them to explain it in a different way.
By asking questions this allows your partner to know that you are trying to be understanding.
Also remember that validating your partner doesn’t mean you agree with them. It just means that you are trying to better understand them.
When you understand your partner’s unhappiness it makes it a lot easier to find a solution together.
Remember the I approach we talked about earlier? That also applies here. When you have come to an understanding with your partner let them know.
“I can see why that upsets you”.
Of course make sure you actually understand what upset them before tossing that phrase out there 😅
Keep The Volume Down
For this one I blame the Hispanic side of me. Or the fact that part of my family is just really loud altogether.
However, the bad part of getting loud is that it makes things get a little more out of control.
The rational me knows this 💁♀️
Even if what you’re screaming is the truth. In this situation it is not about what you are saying but how you’re saying it.
And being on the other side of yelling can be scary.
Yelling will also disrupt that safe space we talked about earlier.
The most frustrating part of yelling is the guilt the person yelling feels afterwards. For those, it’s not like they want to yell.
They just don’t feel like they are being listened to. That’s why it is important to do those video calls.
Another way to keep your volume in check is to take a step back to breathe.
Sometimes it’s hard understanding exactly what is upsetting your partner. When that happens take a step back, breathe and try to find a new way to understand the problem.
Even if that means y’all are still angry at the end of the call. In this sense it’s fine to “go to bed angry” in fact it can actually save your long distance relationship.
Taking that step back and telling each other that you’ll continue the conversation tomorrow will help give y’all some space to clear your heads.
Then when y’all talk again the next day it will be easier to stay focused on what is really causing y’all to argue.
Get Rid of False Narratives
There are times in long distance relationships where we create these false thoughts about our partner. Honestly, you may not even realize that you are doing it.
It could be something as simple as your partner not responding to you right away because they are busy.
In your head you could be thinking “this person doesn’t want to spend time with me, they are busy because they are bored of me”.
Or on the other hand you could be having insecurities with your partner and thinking “my partner only compliments me to make me feel better, they don’t actually mean it”.
It’s crazy, irrational, and we might even get mad at ourselves for letting our brains think that way.
The best way to get rid of these false narratives is by changing the narrative in your head.
Instead of thinking “my partner is bored of me” you change it into “my partner is in a different time zone and has been doing stuff all day, I appreciate the time they make for me”.
Or for the other example, “my partner gives me compliments because they truly mean it”.
With that being said you should talk to your partner about these false narratives, using the I approach mentioned earlier.
A lot of times we create these false narratives because we have our own insecurities that we have to work through. Which brings us to the next step.
Identify What’s Really Causing the Problem
This is the hardest part for a lot of couples because it requires self reflection. No one wants to think they are in the wrong or at fault.
But that’s why this step is crucial.
It’s when you look within and analyze what brought y’all to this point that you are able to see why the argument started in the first place.
When you start the self reflecting part, look at all the aspects of your life and see where you are the most stressed. To make it easier, you can break this part down into the wellness wheel.
Look at each aspect of your life to identify what is causing you stress. Once you have found it, accept that it is causing you stress and talk to your partner about it.
If you feel like the stress is more than you can solve by yourself seek professional help.
Work Towards a Compromise
Now that you’ve done all the steps it’s time to work towards a compromise. Before we start, I want you to really focus on resolving the issue, not who is right and wrong.
I don’t know who needs to hear this but you don’t always have to be right.
Compromise is all about balance. You are balancing each other out by learning each other’s position and having empathy towards your partner.
Once you and your partner have created a solution it will lead to a mutual understanding on how to move forward.
Compromising will also help y’all create trust with one another. Mostly, because you and your partner were able to navigate through the situation and create a better solution together.
When we first started dating, my Snowman and I argued because I didn’t like his tone of voice.
I kept forgetting that English was his second or third language so of course it’s not going to carry the same tone of voice as a native speaker.
Y’all he has the patience of a saint, and I have well…. none 🤦♀️
Over time I had to understand that it wasn’t him but it was me. I compromised by turning my thoughts around, and understood that he does care.
And, he worked towards changing his tone because he knew it would make me happy.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Arguments appear because you and your partner are growing together. When you think of it like that it makes them feel a little more bearable.
Especially when you’re in an international long distance relationship, you are literally taking on different cultures, thoughts, and perspectives.
With so many clashing thoughts there are bound to be arguments along the way.
Just try to remember that at the end of the day you and your partner are a team.
That is what a long distance relationship is, a team of two people taking on everything the world has to offer.
Did these tips help you and your long distance partner learn how to effectively argue? Let me know in the comments below!