All couples fight and it’s completely natural, and comes with the territory of being in a relationship. I quite understand your fears when you find yourself bickering more than usual, it’s natural to wonder, “How much fight is too much?” and “Are we totally screwed?”
Before you freak out and think your relationship is doomed because you had two fights last week, know this: it’s normal to have arguments and disagreements with your partner. “There is no one correct formula when it comes to frequency of conflict, and there is no one correct way to navigate conflict that’s right for all couples.”
The occasional argument is actually a good thing. “When couples fight, it means they care about the relationship. “When fighting goes away completely, sometimes one or both people have checked out.” Not fighting with your partner may indicate a different issue—perhaps you’re weary to share your true feelings, or you don’t trust your partner to handle your feelings.
So, instead of focusing on how often you fight as couple, think about how fairly you fight.
This is why I revealed TEN proven tips to help you fight more productively.
1. Take a Pause when fighting with your partner…before you blurt out something hurtful.
When you’re in the heat of the moment and feeling emotional, it’s tough to think before you open your mouth. But taking a pause before you launch into a complaint will allow you to frame your grievance more effectively.
A few simple seconds gives you enough time to step back from squabbles and think: “How can I say this so my partner will hear it?” This quick, mental timeout will help you choose a kinder and calmer way to approach the situation, and make you more likely to be heard as a result.
2. Always use “I” rather than “you” phrases.
Saying “I’m hurt” or “I feel really angry” instead of “You screwed up!” will lead to a more productive dialogue because it takes your partner off of the defensive.
“If you lead with accusation or blame, they won’t hear what you want them to hear. They’re going to feel at fault and you won’t get through.”
Speaking in terms of how you feel and offering potential solutions to try together, rather than blaming your partner completely, will remind you that you’re in a partnership and need to work together to have a stronger relationship.
3. Avoid personal attacks.
Unfortunately, arguments can often devolve into personal attacks (think name-calling, criticizing the core of who someone is or how they look)—and that is definitely not healthy for your relationship. If you’re name-calling, you’ve probably gone too far.
4. Avoid rehashing old arguments and focus the actual issue.
If you’re constantly rehashing old arguments, fighting about the same things over and over with no resolution or compromise, or feeling upset about the fact that you fight all the time, that can become problematic.
The predictors of divorce occur when a person consistently attacks her partner’s character rather than isolating the specific issues that are upsetting.
So, instead of saying, “Of course you didn’t do the dishes again. You’re lazy!”—which will either put your partner on the defense or make him retreat or resent you—try isolating the specific complaint or issue you have. You can say something instead like, “I feel frustrated when I come home to a sink full of dirty dishes. Can we set up a schedule for our chores so this doesn’t happen again?”
5. Talk less and listen more.
When we fight, there’s a tendency to talk more than to listen. We’re so eager to get our feelings out, we may not even hear what our loved one is trying to express.
The person who has an issue is the one that needs to be listened to. She suggests that instead of immediately defending yourself, just listen and let your partner know that you heard them.
This approach is effective because it not only shows that you were listening, but that you understand what your partner was saying or where they were coming from. You’re more likely to have a more productive dialogue instead of a full blowout argument when you just listen.
6. Change what you say and how you say it.
The reality is that most of us recycle arguments and can almost exactly predict how our partner is going to respond, as if the discussion has been scripted.
If you want to fight better, change what you say—and how you say it.”It’s a good thing for people to recognize their ‘dialogue demons’ so they can re-frame the argument, label it, and approach it differently. Instead of pointing the finger at the other person, they can ask themselves how they’re contributing to the argument and try a new approach.” The important piece is that you frame your argument with respect and kindness so that you give your loved one a chance to respond in kind.
7. In your bid to stay peaceful don’t avoid necessary arguments.
A lot of couples might keep it to themselves when they’re mad at each other because they’re scared of starting potentially relationship-threatening arguments. But a recent study found that avoiding these conversations is actually more likely to harm a relationship than help it.
The survey asked 935 people in committed relationships about how they handled conflict and how fulfilling and promising their partnerships were. The results were striking: People who talked through conflicts were 10 times more likely to be happy with their relationships. As for the people who stayed silent, those who blamed their partners for the lack of communication were more likely to be unhappy.
“Those thinking about raising sensitive issues with a loved one should weigh the possible risks of speaking up against the certain risks of not speaking up.” “If you don’t talk out problems, you tend to act them out — and as a result, problems not only persist, they actually get worse. The biggest mistake is to fool yourself into thinking that *not *talking about concerns reduces the risk of problems—it doesn’t.”
8. Always put yourself in your partner’s shoes.
Another key tip for addressing relationship issues effectively? Put yourself in your partner’s shoes by brainstorming reasons why a sensible person might behave the way they did. It will help you better understand their actions.
9. Don’t threaten to leave your partner during your fight.
It’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you, but try as hard as you can not to threaten to break up or get divorced. Regardless of whether you mean it, those words can leave a lasting impact on the person who hears them, and cause them to feel insecure in the relationship long after the fight is over.
10. Never resort to abuse, be it physical or emotional abuse.
If a fight with your partner has ever made you feel physically, emotionally, or psychologically unsafe, that’s a major red flag, according to the experts. Couples fight is healthy only as long as it stays fair and safe.
If you find that you’re arguing a lot, it’s bothering you, and the two of you can’t seem to get it right, it may be time to see a professional for help. “Often a clean pair of eyes can help you see where your communication patterns are going wrong.” And if you feel like things have crossed a line, talk to a family therapist, couples counselor, or someone you trust ASAP. “If even one member of a couple has feelings of upset, dissatisfaction, discomfort, fear, or any other significant negative feelings related to the nature, frequency, or intensity of the conflict itself, it’s something that should be addressed.”