It’s summer — the season for spending time outdoors, going on trips, and lounging by the pool. However, there’s a dark side to the sunny weather: as the temperature rises, tempers can rise too. That means that you might get more heated than usual when you and your significant other are making that vacation itinerary. Fights are inevitable in any relationship — avoiding them is simply unrealistic and can even be unhealthy.
However, there’s a right way to fight. You can disagree without aggression, blaming, stonewalling, or the silent treatment. Believe it or not, a fight can actually improve your relationship — as long as you follow these ten rules.
Fight with the right attitude.
Finger-pointing is not effective. It might be easy to put all the blame on your partner, but it won’t solve any problems.
Understand your emotions.
What’s underneath the anger? Why are you really upset? When you are talking about your emotions, don’t use “you” messages. Instead try using “I” statements: “I don’t feel supported when you don’t help clean up after dinner. I need you to be an equal partner in our household.”
Misunderstandings make a fight worse. Make sure that you understand your partner and your partner understands you. Use mirroring: “I hear you, you said, _________. Am I right?”
“Yes. You are right,” or, “No, I meant…”
Take a time out if you need it.
Sometimes it’s better to step away from a fight for a minute until you’re both less emotional. But don’t just walk off: let your partner know that you are leaving.
Don’t follow your partner if they initiate a time out.
Boundaries are important: show your partner that you respect theirs. You’ll probably be calmer after taking a break, too.
Take your time to cool off.
Breathe mindfully, listen to music, go for a walk, garden: whatever works best for you. Take all the time that you need.
After you cool off, let your partner know that you are ready.
Finish the conversation — don’t just let it fester because you’re not in the heat of the moment any longer.
Don’t bring up “old issues”.
Try to stick to a current disagreement. Don’t use the words “always” and “never.” You don’t want to make your partner feel defensive or inadequate: you want to fix the problem.
Stay calm and positive.
Your relationship is a good thing. You love your partner. Even the less-than-fun parts of your relationship are something to be grateful for. Try and remember that, even during a fight.
Acknowledge and appreciate your partner.
Thank you partner for communicating effectively. Acknowledge the good things that they do in your life. Yes, even during a fight!
If you and your partner both follow these ten rules, your fights will lead to better communication, understanding, and growth — all things worth fighting for.
If you would like to work on these techniques, or another issue in your relationship, contact me about arranging a couples or individual session today.