Relationship Advice: How Do I Avoid Arguments While WFH With My Partner?
Relationship Advice is a column in CLEO where we ask relationship coaches, psychologists and experts on problems that twenty-something women in Singapore might face in different stages of their relationship. If you have a question for an expert, drop us an email at email@example.com.
This column is contributed by Cindy Leong from Relationship Studio. Cindy is an Enneagram Personality Coach and Corporate Trainer who helps people make sense of their professional and personal relationships.
With the whole household staying at home due to circuit breaker—unless they are members of essential services—arguments are bound to arise, especially when we all have different working styles. Some of us might thrive in silence, while others need background noise or a chat every 30 minutes.
If you’re living only with your partner, friction might also occur because the two of you see each other 24/7 and when that happens, even the smallest argument can snowball into a major fight.
So what do you do when it happens? You can’t just leave, you are literally advised not to leave your house.
There’s tension between me and my partner. How can I face him without having a heated argument?
When you have an issue with the way your partner does something, ask yourself a few questions:
- Why is he doing this?
- How is this affecting me?
- What suggestions could I propose?
Generally, people are more open to communicate when there is no judgment and there is empathy and compassion.
Start by understanding the situation—why is he doing this? You can do so by asking him the reason behind his actions, and seek to understand before blaming—blaming is the last communication style we should be using at this time.
After your partner feels that he is heard, share how his behaviour is affecting you. Sometimes, upon self reflection, you might even realise that it wasn’t affecting you a lot—your action might have stemmed from anger or self-control issues.
Instead of playing the blame game, offer suggestions on how he can do things differently without affecting you. Come to a compromise and set boundaries and rules of thumb for future.
We see each other 24/7. How can I control my emotions and avoid arguments?
Before flaring up, always ask: What is it about my partner that makes me feel this way? Take ownership for your emotion instead of always blaming the partner for all the negative emotions you are feeling.
Find a space in the house to cool down, whether on your bed, in the living room or the bathroom.
To avoid arguments, learn to set boundaries. Should your partner behave in a way that overstepped your boundaries, have open communication about it.
I’m arguing with my partner when he suddenly storms out and goes into a separate room. What should I do?
Give each other space to cool down and come back to the discussion after an hour or so. While having the discussion, stick to the topic and do not bring up other people/issues not related to the present argument.
You may also offer a drink or snack as a gesture of kindness to ease off the tension.
Writing a small note to your partner may help too! Sometimes, some people are not good with head-on arguments. Writing notes allow him to state his thoughts in a calm manner.
My partner thinks “working from home” means “I’m not working at all”. How do I explain to them so that they understand?
Transparency is the best at this point. Show them your calendar that you still have calls, video conferences and meetings. It should be really obvious when you are on a video call, your family members can see your boss and colleagues on the screen.
Show them briefly the excel sheet, and documents you are working on when they walk in. Be open to share updates at work so they know “something is going on” even though you are “working from home”.
Use these few weeks as a relationship challenge:
Get rid of one negative: What is that one thing that I tend to do that irritates my partner the most? Aim to just get rid of one of those in three weeks. It can be something as simple or overlooked as these:
- Forgetting to dump dirty clothes in the laundry basket
- Forgetting to wash the dishes
- Intrusion of space
Add two positives: Start something positive within your relationship with your partner
- Initiative: Show effort in the relationship, propose to do something together
- Project: Complete a task together
- E-learning: Learn something online together
- Discuss relationship/financial goals together
This article is featured in CLEO. Written by Sally Manik on 22 April 2020.