Los Angeles Psychologist Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. On The Importance Of Having Debates With Your Partner (02/03/2022)

los angeles psychologist

Why It’s Important To Have A Healthy Debate With Your Partner And How To Do It More Effectively

Having a healthy debate is not only good for your relationship, but actually is necessary.  First of all, to have an authentic and deep relationship, both partners need to be open and “real” with each other, even if that means disagreeing at times.  By expressing how each person really thinks and feels, this allows the partners to truly “see,” get to know, and understand each other.  Also, a healthy debate is good for your relationship because it helps each person be less likely to internalize and repress who one is or to lash out at one’s partner with something that hasn’t been directly expressed in an appropriate manner.  Furthermore, being able to have a healthy debate can help a couple develop or strengthen important skills for a successful relationship including compromise, respect for each other’s differences, and being able to operate as a team.

Remember That You Are On The Same Team

One tip for having a healthy debate is to, first and foremost, remember that you and your partner are on the same team and are allies, not adversaries.  The purpose of the healthy debate shouldn’t be to “win” over the other.  Instead, each partner should focus on being “real” and express clear and direct thoughts and feelings to each other.  By doing this in an open way, the real “win” is that each partner can come to know each other more accurately.  In addition, the couple’s closeness can increase since they are sharing their thoughts and feelings on a more personal, genuine level with each other.
los angeles psychologist yvonne thomas

Maintain A Nonjudgmental Environment With Each Other

Another tip for having a healthy debate is for both partners to maintain a peaceful, nonjudgmental, emotionally safe environment.  It takes trust and comfortability to share in a vulnerable way especially when it’s about topics or issues the couple disagrees about.  Thus, it is imperative that each partner remain nonjudgmental, not overly emotional, and with as little defensiveness as possible to encourage the other partner to speak openly with him or her.

For example, if a partner keeps being interrupted, yelled at, or criticized by the other, this can create a negative and possibly hostile environment which can shut down a productive debate.  Instead, there needs to be respect for each other as shown through remaining calm, listening, and asking questions after the partner has finished talking.  To make it fairer to both parties, there can be a set amount of time agreed on before the debate starts for how long each partner talks such as three minutes at a time so that there is a dialogue between the couple rather than a monologue from one or both partners.  This time limit per person also makes it more possible for the listener to remember what he or she wants to say and to not interrupt as much.

Strive For Compromise Or Resolution

Also, a tip for having a healthy debate is to reach a resolution that feels fair to both parties.  After both partners have shared their differing views and feelings, it then is important to find a way to reach a mutually acceptable understanding or resolution together.  One way to achieve this is through compromise, by which the couple can meet in the middle and agree on some of the points related to the topic or issue.  They can also agree to disagree about some of the other parts they can’t find middle ground with.  Regardless, both partners should commend and be emotionally supportive of each other for being so transparent and for trying to find healthy ways to embrace or co-exist with each other’s dissimilar thoughts and feelings.
Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. is a Los Angeles psychologist who offers relationship counseling. Call (310) 359-9450 for a FREE consultation or request an appointment online HERE