How to Not Argue Back

Baseball.  You’re probably wondering what catching a baseball has to do with relationships. In this case, it has everything to do with how you and your partner interact. Let’s say that you’re sitting in your living room watching your favorite TV show.  It’s almost over and you’re about to find out what happens to the main character.  Your partner walks in and wants to talk with you about what’s for dinner.  At first you ignore him.  But he won’t take the hint and keeps asking you and when you don’t respond he starts complaining about how he’s had a hard day at work and the least you could do since you’re home all day is have dinner ready for him when he comes home.  What do you do? This is where catching the baseball has everything to do with your relationship. Imagine the baseball is a metaphor for your partner’s tone and words.  He’s literally throwing them at you.  Not to you.  At you.  There’s a difference right?  He’s not in an intention to learn about when dinner will be ready.  He’s not wanting to learn what he could do on his own to make his own dinner or get a snack to hold him over until you’re done with your show.  He’s not wanting to find out when your show is over so that he can decide what to do until then. Instead he’s coming at you with everything he’s got.  So now you have choices. First, I want you to picture what you typically do.  Do you turn the TV louder so you drown his voice out?  Or do you start in with him telling him he just ruined your TV moment and what’s his problem?  Either of these options is probably not going to sit very well with him and then he’s going to toss ‘the ball’ right back at you probably even harder.  Then you’ll probably give him some of his own medicine and before you know it the two of you aren’t talking for the rest of the night.  All of this from playing a game of catch.  And it never ends well as usually both of you end up feeling hurt. I want you to remember that it takes two to play catch right?  One throws the ball and then the other one catches it.  Then you throw it back and your partner catches it.  Then he throws it back and you catch it.  When both of you react to each other in angry, defensive, shaming or critical ways, playing this kind of catch can be destructive to your relationship. So is there another option?  Yes and this is what it looks like. Don’t pick up the ball when your partner throws it to you.  Tell yourself your partner's thoughts and feelings have nothing to do with you.  Don't take his behavior personally.  Then don’t catch the ball and if it lands anywhere near you don’t pick it up and throw it back to your partner.  Game over.  It’s that simple. And when you don’t play the game you don’t fuel an argument.  There’s no such thing as a game of catch for one unless you’re throwing the ball against the wall.  And that’s okay too as long as you’re not there.  It never feels loving to our self and it’s definitely not loving and in the highest good of your relationship to allow yourself to be around negative energy. So, the next time your partner tries to get you to play right into his argument hands, don’t catch the ball.  Set a loving boundary with your partner letting your partner know that you’re not willing to engage with him unless he’s open to learning with a loving intention. Yes, you might have to leave the room and miss the ending of your favorite TV show.  Or you might have to go alone to an event you were planning on going to with your partner.  You might even end up sleeping in the spare bedroom or staying at a hotel for the night. When you set a loving boundary, you’re taking loving care not only of yourself but also of your relationship. And you’re doing what’s loving for your partner even if your partner doesn’t agree with it.  And when you take loving care of yourself, you give your partner the opportunity to make a different choice. You never know.  Maybe next time, instead of trying to get you to play catch with him, your partner may surprise you and sit beside you on the couch helping you figure out who done it!