Managing Couples Conflict

It's never fun to argue with your partner. When you’re angry or worked up, it’s easy to let emotions get the better of you—suddenly, what started as a simple disagreement has snowballed into an out-of-control battle. What should you do next? We’re here with a few tips that will bring things down a notch when find yourself in a heated argument with your significant other.

  1. Allow each other to take a break. There’s no fault in taking a time-out for yourself to cool off from a fight. Conversely, when your partner says, “leave me alone,” listen. Taking a break from the argument can be surprisingly therapeutic – it gives you and your partner the time to calm down and think more rationally about the situation. Of course, taking a break from an argument only really works if the two of you have a mutual understanding that the topic can be revisited at a later time if one or both of you are still upset. Walking away from an argument can take some serious self-discipline, but it also has some serious advantages. Heated arguments cause us to say and do things that we often regret later, and taking the time to think clearly and rationally about the issue at hand can save your relationship quite a bit of pain.

  2. Be fair in love and war. We all have nasty argumentative habits – maybe you raise your voice when you get frustrated; maybe you take shots at your partner; maybe you swear up a storm. Find out what you do that shuts your partner down during an argument. Learn how your behavior contributes to the escalation of a fight, and then work to correct it. Be fair to your partner and acknowledge when you’ve fallen into your bad habit – if you have a tendency to yell and your partner calls your attention to this during an argument, have the humility to say, “I’m sorry I started to yell. Can we try again? I promise not to raise my voice.” Your willingness to acknowledge and work on your flaws during an argument can not only pacify your partner, but also improve the communication within your relationship significantly.

  3. Stand in their shoes. It can be hard to defuse an argument with your partner if you have no idea where they’re coming from. Even if you’re angry, try to take a step back and look at the problem from their point of view. Remind yourself that even if you don’t agree with the conclusions they’ve arrived at, they are still entitled to their feelings. Our point here – for example – is that even if you didn’t mean to hurt your significant other’s feelings with what you said, you did, and it’s important to be sympathetic about that. Try expressing to your partner that you understand how they feel, or that you’re at least trying to understand how they feel. It might make them feel better and tone down their frustration a little.

  4. Remember that you’re on the same team. Sometimes molehills that turn into mountains can make us forget about a really important fact: our partners are just that: our partners. They are our best friend, our confidante, and the person we work together to build a beautiful life with. Suddenly, in the heat of an argument, we’re head-to-head against one another, and we forget that we share a mutual goal of resolving the same issue for the better of the relationship. Instead of going to war with your partner, reel yourself in and remind your partner that you’re on the same team. Then, offer to start over in a way that will allow you to work together to solve your problem.

Taming a fight can be challenging, but learning to use these tips for communication and understanding can improve your relationship and your argument style dramatically. If you and your partner struggle with arguments that spiral out of control, read this blog post together and agree to make a conscious effort to work on poor habits as you move forward with your relationship. If you work together to make it better, you are sure to see a difference!