The biggest argument I ever had with my husband was over the phone and about trucking. It ended with a slammed receiver and two of the worst hours of my life. When we made up, we vowed never to discuss highly charged subjects by phone.
Anyone who has argued by phone knows it’s often easier to hurt someone when you’re lacking the cues of facial expression or the reassuring touch of a hand. Sometimes, a hard silence on the other end goads you into saying things you really don’t mean. Other times, his hot words stoke the fire of a long-simmering resentment. Whatever the reason, these arguments will feel worse because he’s not home to talk it out.
Trudi Creel-Pye learned the trucker’s wife’s version of “never go to bed angry” after she hung up on her husband. “It happened because he was on the road without me for the first time, and I felt really frustrated at being so far away,” she says. After sitting there in tears and wondering if he was in an accident, she called him back in the truck. “Now, we make sure our arguments are over and done with before we hang up,” she says. “I’ve seen too many scary things happen on the road.”
But what happens when the conflict is too painful to resolve over the phone?
Experts say step one is to bow out gracefully from confrontations. In phone arguments, it’s best to end the call – hopefully not by slamming down the receiver – until everyone calms down. Trucker’s wife Adrienne Hicks says most of their arguments happen on the few occasions she’s not in the truck. “When he calls home upset, I listen and know it’s the anger talking.” If he’s too unreasonable, she asks him to call back in 20 minutes. “He does the same for me,” she says.
Get some perspective by asking yourself exactly what triggered the argument. Perhaps you both had a bad day. Other times, the real reason goes much deeper and may even surprise you. Once you’ve taken the time to understand your feelings, decide how to communicate without blaming or being hurtful. If you can’t do this by phone, don’t try. Hicks and her husband wait for an hour after he arrives home before discussing anything major. This gives him time to adjust without being hit with problems the minute he walks in the door.
The most important part of resolving arguments is to take responsibility to face your feelings and find solutions. Don’t let unchecked anger ruin your relationship.
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