When's the last time you got into an argument with your partner? It's okay. Everybody argues. Despite the fairytale standard of “happily ever after,” an argument doesn't, in any way, mean you don't love each other, or you're not right for each other. People disagree, no matter how much they care for each other. It's just a part of life.

I wish someone had told me that fifteen years ago. I might not have stressed the arguments so much. But I might have also stayed in a B.S., dead-end relationship, too, simply because I didn't stress the arguments, so maybe I learned this fact just when I needed to learn it. So, if you're in a B.S., dead-end relationship ignore that advice, take the arguments seriously and get the hell out already!

But if you're NOT in a B.S., dead-end relationship, let's talk about how your arguments play out. I mean, I don't care WHY you argue, I just want to know HOW you argue. One at a time, please. And stop yelling.

I know it's not an easy thing to explain. What do I mean how do you argue? Like, am I asking if you yell a lot?

Yeah, kinda. Let me tell you how I argue.

I've got a touch of ADD. No, really. I'll be strolling along, talking about how sexual Russell Allen's (Symphony X, Adrenaline Rush) stage presence is, and suddenly, mid-sentence and completely without warning, I'll veer off into the weeds squealing uncontrollably about some rock I saw from the path. And I argue the same way. M and I will be discussing the rights of the father of an unborn baby, and, exasperated, confused and/or out of arguments or solutions, I'll exclaim something like, “That's because I ALWAYS do the dishes.”

Wait … what?

Well, it used to work with my ex! And besides, diversion is an excellent tactic in battle. Why wouldn't it work in an argument with your partner?

Mostly because you're not trying to kill your partner and all of their friends. And if you are, you should really get that checked. IT'S NOT NORMAL! Or maybe it is, and all of us non-mass-murderers are crazy. Who knows, really? Put down the knife, please. Psycho.

But another reason diversion is a craptastic way to handle an argument is because it doesn't solve anything. Sure, for a little while, you've both moved on, but when it comes right down to it, the issue's still there, only now it's twice as bad because you diverted attention away from it onto something easier for you to deal with, and everyone's still pissed. Especially your partner who has no idea what dishes have to do with a father's rights.

But I've come a long way, baby.

When my ex and I had a disagreement, I wouldn't even listen to him. How dare he disagree with me? All the ways around here are my ways. And everybody knows I'm smarter than him, anyway, so really, he should just listen to me.

I? Was an asshole. In my defense, so was he.

But it didn't stop there.

We talked down to each other. We called each other names. We yelled almost from the very start. We blamed each other for every problem, regardless of the validity or possibility of the claim. We never tried to compromise. We each wanted the upper hand. And then we “fixed it” with sex, rarely ever actually solving – or sometimes even addressing – the problem.

By the time we were finished attacking each other, the relationship was in shambles. There was nothing left to put back together. And neither of us had the inclination to try.

So! How do you argue? If you're constantly making accusations, or playing the blame game, or calling your partner a name, you could be killing your relationship.

Instead, listen to your partner and respond to what they are actually saying, not what you think they're saying. If you're not sure, ask.

When you want to yell, “You annoying bastard, what the frack is wrong with you?” try something like, “Man, you're really pissing me off right now because I feel like you're saying/doing <insert thing that's pissing you off here>. What's going on?” Chances are, if things don't make sense to you, they don't make sense to them either. And you could be throwing away your one-and-only simply because you don't know how to argue.

What? It could happen.

P.S. M and I are not arguing. I was just veering off into the weeds.