A heated fight can cause permanent damage to a relationship. When a fight is particularly bad, it can even be the end of the relationship. No fight is enjoyable, but it’s normal and healthy to air your grievances and sort through your issues. The trick is fighting in a way that doesn’t cause lasting damage. Here’s how to fight with your partner that could save your relationship.
Avoid hitting below the belt.
When emotions are running high during a fight and your feelings are hurt, it’s tempting to say something hurtful in retaliation. No matter how angry you feel with your partner, resist the urge to hit below the belt. Fights come to an end but the things we say during those fights can linger on for months or years afterward. Remember that you still love your partner and don’t really want to hurt them. Words said in anger can cause irreparable damage.
Don’t insult or name-call.
Fights can bring out the worst in people. You might have thought that you left name-calling and insults back in high school, but this behavior can sometimes rear its head in the heat of the moment. Again, avoid sinking low like this. Work on other anger-management techniques, such as writing down how you feel, rather than unleashing your fury on your partner with an insulting name.
Really listen to what they’re saying.
This may sound like a given, but actually listen to what your partner is saying. Don’t just stay quiet until they’ve finished talking so you can talk. Consider their words carefully and process them so you can respond properly. If you really listen, you might start to see their point of view. Or you might understand where the two of you aren’t seeing eye to eye. Listening to them properly may also encourage them to listen to you properly in return.
Take breathers when it gets too heated.
If the fight is getting a little too passionate, it’s okay to take a breather. Sometimes, the best thing to do is walk away until you’ve both calmed down. When you’re too emotional, neither of you will be able to think clearly, and your fight is unlikely to resolve. Rather than stomping out and slamming the door, calmly but firmly say that you’re stepping away until you’ve both calmed down.
Keep your voice and body language neutral.
This can be really challenging when you’re feeling emotional. But try your best to keep your voice and body language neutral. Give your partner physical space so they don’t feel crowded. Try not to fold your arms or growl at them. It’s okay to vent your feelings, but if you do that while barking at them or yelling at the top of your lungs, they’re less likely to meet you halfway.
Acknowledge their points.
It can help to acknowledge the points your partner makes. You can do this by repeating them as your partner says them. Or simply say, “I understand that you feel this way.” Doing this will show your partner that you are listening and hopefully discourage them from becoming defensive.
Explain how you feel.
When it’s time for you to make your points, take the time to explain how you feel and why. If you’re feeling resentful, explain why you feel like that and what you perceive your partner has done to contribute to that. Remember that your partner isn’t a mind-reader and communicating openly is likely to help you to resolve things more quickly.
Don’t bring up issues you’ve already resolved.
Try not to bring up old fights you’ve had in the past, even if they back up the point you’re making. When you do that, you open the door for the fight to carry on for much longer than it needs to. It helps to resolve issues as they come up, rather than letting them build up and then confronting your partner with a long list of things from the past.
Don’t make threats.
Many relationship experts find that giving ultimatums doesn’t work. When you back your partner into a corner, they are actually likely to feel more unsafe within your relationship. If they give into your threat, they might be doing so out of fear rather than because they really want to. In the heat of the moment, your partner might call your bluff, which can then bring about the end of the relationship when none of you really want that.
Own mistakes you’ve made.
Nothing is more irritating than arguing with someone who won’t admit when they’re wrong. If you have done something wrong, own it and apologize. This will also hopefully encourage your partner to admit when they’ve made a mistake. It also sets the precedent that none of you is perfect and will help you to avoid putting each other on a pedestal. Don’t apologize for what you haven’t done. But when you have made a mistake, bite the bullet and own up to it so you can move on.
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