Arguing in a relationship is inevitable, but how do you stop a fight from getting worse when you're already down that argument road? Listen — fighting is going to occur in relationships. It’s the unpleasant truth about being in a partnership, and most people realize this on some level, at least. It’s like going to the doctor — nobody likes to do it, but it’s necessary for a healthy partnership. Having arguments means that you and your partner are actually communicating with one another, instead of sweeping things under the rug. Arguments can get a bad rap. Not all disagreements are created equal. And, it’s truly how you and your significant other deal with these disagreements that will have a major impact. It’s easy to know the things that can make a fight go from bad to even worst, but not always the opposite.
Just know that it is more than OK that you and your partner have arguments from time to time. You are blending two lives into one, so if you didn’t fight here and there, something probably isn't right, anyway. Having a background in Counseling Psychology and experience in being a relationship expert and life coach, I know a thing or two about arguing constructively. There are some helpful things that you can do to stop an argument from going from 0 to 100.
1. Take A Breather
Once an argument has started, you can feel your heart racing, your palms getting sweaty, and those automatic eye rolls starting to take place. This is the moment you want to take a step back and breathe. Taking in a deep and long breath, will not only put a pause on the fight itself, but it has also been well-known to help reduce stress. We all know how stressful arguments can be, so breathe in and slow it down.
No, I don’t mean you need to break up with your other half. I simply mean that when it feels like the argument is getting too heated, put a lid on it and separate from each other for a moment. Oftentimes we end up saying things that we wish we could take back. Physically removing yourself from the situation is a excellent way to avoid saying something nasty. Now, I’m not suggesting you just storm off during a fight. Simply tell your partner that you need a second to cool off and that you want to continue discussing it later at a more appropriate and healthy time.
3. Think First, Speak Second
I know it sounds obvious, but really try to think before you speak. It’s so easy to spew out your feelings in the heat of the moment. However, when we are angry, we tend to go to some dark places. We bring up old arguments and resentments, we make dramatic statements and we tend to be very black and white. To stop from making an argument worse, you need to think a little bit more about what you are actually saying. Just know, as much as you would like to take comments back, your hurtful words are like spiders, you always remember them, no matter how hard you try to forget.
4. Plan It Out
If you’re great at planning birthday parties or get-togethers with friends, this one will be a breeze for you. Plan out your argument before you have it. That means if you know you want to bring up a touchy subject with your person, plan ahead as if you were planning any other event. Think about where you want to have this talk. Dinner for two at a restaurant is an example of what you don’t want to do. Alone in your apartment together sounds like a much better idea. Think of the main points you want to get across and the best way to approach your partner. Behind every great argument is an even greater plan.
5. Ask For Advice
Let’s say for instance there’s been something on your mind that you want to bring up to your partner. You know that this something will more than likely cause a disagreement between you two. Before you decide to bring up a touchy subject, it might be wise to seek some helpful advice beforehand. Call up your mom for some unbiased or not-so-unbiased mom opinion on the situation. Or ask your bestie what he or she would do in your situation. Make sure you ask for an opinion from someone who you know will give you sound advice. It’s cheaper than a therapist and it will help give you an outside perspective.
6. Pick And Choose Your Battles
The best way to stop some arguments from getting worse is to not even start them in the first place. There are times you should most definitely speak up for yourself and let your feelings be heard, and then there’s times you should just let it slide. There are going to be many things that frustrate you about your partner, but you can’t voice every single one. Your partner will get overwhelmed, and so will you. Pick and choose the battles you want to have. Give attention to the serious issues and let go of the irrelevant annoyances. The little things aren’t worth your time and energy.
You can't always know when an argument is going to happen, but with these tools you will be better prepared for any eye roll, rude tone or shrug.