All couples fight. It’s completely normal and totally healthy. However, the way you argue and the way you work towards a resolution makes the difference in a successful relationship. Here are some of our tips for working through an argument together.
Express your feelings (and don’t interrupt)
The first step in working through an argument together is to express how you feel. Talk about what set you off during your argument and what emotions you felt during it. This can help you understand the feelings or deeper meanings underneath the conflict.
For example, say you work regular 9 to 5 hours in an office, and your partner works an earlier shift from home. When you get home at 5:30, you’re ready to destress and not think about work. But your partner wants to talk about their work day and spend some time with you immediately, and you’re not ready for it. You feel aggravated and crowded, while your partner feels misunderstood and unappreciated, so you begin to fight. To work through it, express your feelings, and let your partner do the same without interrupting. There are two sides to an argument, and you need to understand their perspective too. This may seem obvious, but make sure to listen to your partner. Acknowledge their feelings and point of view.
Keep it civil
While it’s okay to express your feelings by saying “I’m so mad at you right now,” it’s not okay to say “You’re a liar and a terrible person.” This calls attention to the person, not the problem at hand. Don’t lash out and attack your partner’s personality, character, habits, and so on. Keep it civil and avoid name-calling, eye-rolling, or mean behavior.
Leave the past in the past
Let it go. Don’t bring up past arguments in your current conflict. And once this current argument is over, let it go and don’t bring it up again either. Holding a grudge is not healthy for you, nor is it healthy, loving behavior towards your partner. Once an argument is resolved, let it be and move forward.
Take a timeout if one of you needs it
It’s common for one or both of you to enter “fight, flight or freeze” mode, a normal reaction when humans perceive danger. Your stress hormones may activate to fight, leave the argument in a huff, or not react at all. When this happens, it may be best to take a timeout until you’re both in problem solving mode. Be sure to state that it’s a timeout and that neither of you is walking away from the conflict. Take 10 minutes to breathe and cool off, then be ready to work towards a resolution. Don’t let too much time pass, and don’t give each other the silent treatment. You’re a team, and you must work together to find a solution.
Finally, apologize to each other. It’s not easy, and for some people, it’s the hardest thing to do. Remember that taking responsibility for hurting your partner’s feelings is a vital part of your relationship. Apologize in a way that acknowledges your actions and the pain they caused. Accept responsibility and ask for forgiveness. A proper apology will restore trust and feelings of closeness with one another.
Being open, civil, and understanding with your partner is key to fighting fair. At Mind Balance Counseling we can help couples implement strategies for a healthy relationship, like conflict resolution and communication skills. We can help you and your partner with premarital counseling, parenting skills, blended families, and more. Reach out to us for more information about our services.