Relationship Tips: How to Fight Fair
Relationship Advice: In any relationship, arguments are bound to happen. Successful couples are not measured by the frequency with which they argue or the politeness with which they argue. Rather, successful couples have a special ability to de-escalate arguments before they get out of hand (which is a great skill to model for your kids). Next time you and your partner get into a heated argument, try to de-escalate it by following these relationship tips:
- Stay seated. The simple act of standing up can intensify emotions and lead to premature exits. Sitting down while arguing can help you stay more in emotional control.
- Acknowledge that something the other person is saying has merit. A simple "I agree with you about that —" or "I can see why you feel that way —" may help to calm both of you down.
- Acknowledge that something you said might not have been helpful. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that." We all say things in the heat of the moment; it's natural, but not helpful. Take the time to acknowledge that you said something out of line.
- Stick to the subject at hand and don't start raising too many relationship questions all at once. You're bound to feel overwhelmed and escalate the situation further.
- Be willing to be influenced by your partner's attempt to de-escalate. De-escalating takes cooperation to make it happen. Often, one person is so upset that he or she keeps ramping up the debate even when they know better. Follow your partner's lead.
- Try to express in a sentence or two the key thing you want your partner to understand (that you don't think he understands). Then listen to what he wants you to understand. Given your mutual understanding, ask one another "What are we willing to do to meet most of our concerns?" Any attempt to meet one another half-way is now more likely to succeed.
- Tell each other later that the de-escalation worked and you appreciate it. The first time it might take 30 minutes to de-escalate an argument, but after recognizing that it works, the second time might take 10 minutes and then after that just a few minutes to make things better. Positive reinforcement works wonders. (How else would we ever be able to potty train our kids?)