Often the person who we love the most, is also the one we end up fighting with the most. When you spend a lot of time with one person, they learn about the most intimate parts of your personality. This is one of the greatest joys of a relationship but it also unfortunately means that your significant other will understand how to trigger you emotionally, and vice versa.
While most healthy couples do end up arguing on occasion, fighting can lead to the demise of a relationship if it becomes commonplace. Here are a series of steps you can take to ease the tension, feel closer to your significant other and make the most of your time together.
Let Go of The Past
When you have conflict with your significant other, it can be easy to fester on the fight. Replaying an argument in your head may seem productive as a way to reflect but it will often leave you feeling unhappy for longer. Ruminating on feelings of anger will make it more difficult to forgive your partner in the longterm and may result in even more fighting.
If this sounds familiar, know that you are not alone in this bad habit. Psychology shows that humans often have an unconscious desire to maintain negative feelings about their relationship because it feels familiar. Recognising this is an important first step to break the cycle.
Take Time To Calm Yourself Before Engaging In A Fight
When arguing, most people get swept up in the moment and are highly reactive. You may feel some initial satisfaction by hurting your significant other with that harsh one liner but you will likely regret this soon after the fight has passed.
If you feel triggered in this way, your partner has clearly hit a nerve. However, if you contain your emotion in this moment of intensity, you can make a more rational choice with your response and avoid escalating the situation.
Remember to take a moment before responding when arguing – counting to five in your head can often be helpful. Show sensitivity towards your significant other by ensuring you are fully aware of the impact of your words before making your statements.
Exercising mindfulness is another great way to feel calmer in a moment of conflict. This will allow you evaluate a potential response, without letting your reactions take over.
Keep in mind your tone of speech is also important. When we talk loudly, in an aggressive fashion, we invite a similar response in return. Try to make yourself heard without raising your voice.
See Things From Your Partner’s Point of View
Once you are feeling calm, your focus will naturally shift away from counterattacks. By maintaining this more receptive state, you break the pattern of negative thought. This will stop your brain from distorting your partner’s words. This then allows you to become more compassionate and tune into your significant other’s perspective.
Understanding the argument from the other person’s side is critical for resolving conflict in relationships. Imagining the relationship in general from your partner’s side is helpful in the longterm for preventing arguments. This tactic enables you to feel closer to your significant other which prevents you from pushing them away in a moment of conflict.
Be Vulnerable and Direct About What You Want In Your Relationship
As mentioned, longtime partners know your trigger points – even though this may be subconscious. When your significant other brings up a triggering topic, it can cause you have an immediate defensive reaction which provokes a verbal fight.
These highly emotionally charged responses won’t give you positive results in your relationship. Instead, you should take some time to recognise what kinds of conversations stir up these emotions. Self-reflection enables you to take control of the moment and calmly voice your opinion.
By opening up the conversion with your partner to talk about the root cause of conflict, you are giving them the chance to understand the situation from your side. Express yourself through honest communication and you will find that this is the most effective way to prevent arguments in the longterm.
For those who struggle with open communication, this technique may help: when communicating feelings of dissatisfaction use ‘I’ statements rather than ‘You’ statements. For example, instead of ‘you always….’, say ‘ I feel ….. when you ….’. This approach shifts blame away from your partner and so will encourage them to see things from your perspective.
Although the tips already mentioned are proven to be effective, they require a lot of work, and it could be challenging for couples to work through these steps alone.
A couple’s or marriage therapist could help you by acting as a mediator. This is especially helpful in situations where one partner is significantly more dominant or finds it difficult to listen to their partner’s concerns. It will help you talk through your problems in a safe space.
While therapy cannot immediately solve all of your issues, it can help reveal deeper issues present in your relationship. It will also offer some additional support to you and your significant other throughout this experience, which can often be an emotional time.
Note: Although it is normal to argue in relationships, abuse is not okay. Please seek help immediately if your partner engages in emotional or physical threats/harm towards you and/or your family.
24/7 Crisis Lines:
- Emergency 000: For immediate danger
- 1800RESPECT 1800 737 732: For issues related to sexual assault or/and family and domestic violence.
- Mensline Australia 1300 789 978: Support for men or boys dealing with relationship issues.
- Lifeline 13 11 14: For any one experiencing personal crisis or contemplating suicide.