All couples fight. It is a natural part of any relationship. You are, after all, sharing a life, a home, responsibilities, children, pets, finances, etc. But, there are unhealthy and healthy ways to argue. There are ways to air your grievances, increase understanding, and make changes, without causing resentment and bringing each other down.
What are some ways arguing can enhance your relationship, rather than damage it? How can happy couples fight healthier?
1.) Take Ownership
Arguments can be healthy ways to work through differences but they also can easily escalate, getting out of control. Take ownership of your feelings and your actions, rather than denying them. Your partner is likely the person you are most intimate with, the one you share your most personal moments with, so be honest. If you were late or made a mistake, admit it. Try not to get caught up in blaming your partner. If you hurt your partner’s feelings, apologize and own up to it. We all make mistakes and taking responsibility for our actions can quickly start to make your partner feel better.
2.) Avoid Nitpicking and Name Calling
Fights can easily escalate when we pick at every little thing the other partner has done to make us mad, bring up past events, or call each other names. Be kind to one another. Avoid hurtful words and focus on the here and now. What is this argument about? Not all the ones in the past. If there are issues that keep re-emerging, consider seeking help from a licensed relationship counselor.
3.) Communicate Triggers
What was it that set you off? Share it with your partner. The only way to make sure the same fight doesn’t continue to happen is to be open and talk through why the argument started in the first place. Were you mad that your partner was late for dinner? Was it because they were late, or was it because they decided to stop and meet a friend and didn’t tell you about it first? What is the deeper reason that caused you to get triggered? It might be hard to pinpoint at first but if you can communicate calmly you likely can get to the bottom of it either on your own or together. And, next time your partner can know how to avoid triggering you in an argument.
4.) Understand If It Was A Misunderstanding
Misunderstandings happen. We are all human. Maybe you thought your partner was going to the meet you for dinner but they ended up working late. Figure out where the misunderstanding occurred, accept it, forgive, move on. You can’t read each other’s minds. Misunderstanding are very common in relationships, this is why communication is key.
5.) Apologize Only If You Mean It
Apologizing for the sake of apologizing might seem the right thing to do, but don’t do it if it’s not authentic. It is meaningless if you don’t actually feel sorry. If you are really truly sorry then say so, but if you are not sorry then it is time to talk about why that might be. Couples counseling can help you work through these emotions and identify causes of hidden anger or resentment, so you can build a healthy relationship.
6.) Identify Solutions
Once you have calmed down from your argument, talk to each other about triggers and process the issues so that you don’t have the same fight again. Maybe you need a shared calendar so you both are on the same page with what you have going on. Or, maybe you need to schedule time in the day to have conversations. Maybe you need more date nights. Whatever it is that triggered the argument this time, come up with a solution or ways to prevent it so it doesn’t happen again.
Ultimately the two of you are a team. You are in this relationship together. You love and care for one another. Set ground rules for your arguments. Take the time to cool off. And, if you are struggling with how to fight healthy, seek help.
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