No one likes arguing with a friend, family member, or spouse, but all close relationships eventually have some conflict. An argument can make your relationship stronger if you choose to fight fairly and constructively, or it can tear apart closeness and leave lingering doubts. Many people have bad habits during arguments that serve to make arguments damaging and unconstructive. The practice of “kitchen-sinking”, in which one person blindsides the other with a barrage of complaints, is one of the most damaging. Here is more information about what this habit is and how to break it.
Bad Arguing Habits: What is Kitchen-Sinking?
This is the “throwing everything in but the kitchen sink” approach. The fight may start about one small thing, but pretty soon kitchen sinkers are throwing in every small grievance they’ve ever had. For instance, a wife may ask her husband to wash the dishes more frequently. His response, rather than discussing the dish issue, would be to claim that she’s a bad cook, that she looked at him meanly this morning, that she’s messy, that she never supports him, and that she never listens. Kitchen sinkers can come up with a list of grievances so quickly that the other person has no chance to apologize, explain, or even keep up.
Why People Do It
Kitchen sinkers may be people who have never witnessed constructive fighting, so they view arguments as something to be “won” rather than resolved. Consequently, they name every grievance they have in an attempt to one-up the other person. Occasionally, kitchen-sinkers are people who have difficulty talking about their feelings. They may harbor resentments during the relationship and only feel comfortable bringing them up during an argument.
Why It’s Bad
Wildly throwing accusations at the other person can destroy any chance of resolving the issue. Moreover, the other person may feel bullied or blindsided by the wild allegations of the kitchen sinker. Finally, kitchen sinking distracts from the real issue and may be a tool for avoiding responsibility. Perhaps worst of all, the kitchen sink approach during an argument is a bullying behavior. Whether you mean to be a bully or not, your are silencing the person you love and preventing them from engaging with you in a more constructive way. This is domineering, controlling behavior and can have a severely negative long-term impact on the relationship.
How To Stop
Kitchen sinking can be a difficult habit to break, particularly if you don’t handle criticism well. Once you’ve become mindful of this habit, however, the key is to remain focused like a laser-beam on the real issue during an argument. Every time you feel yourself wanting to air a grievance to the other person, ask yourself if this grievance is relevant. If it’s not, bite your tongue. It can even be helpful to set up rules for arguing, especially for married and dating couples. If you’re concerned about your kitchen sinking habit, talk to your partner and explain that you need them to help you stay focused on one issue at a time. When you begin to argue, the rule should be that you cannot discuss a new issue until you have resolved the original issue.
Kitchen sinking, like many other bad arguing habits, is not an easy habit to break. Once the habit is broken, however, fighting will become much less stressful and an opportunity for mutual growth and closeness.