How to Stop Fighting in a Relationship & Learn How to Really Talk
Dating is filled with ups and downs, but learning how to stop fighting in a relationship and start communicating can save your partnership and your sanity.
Arguing is an inevitable part of every relationship. You will not always get along. You will clash. There will be tensions running high. You will disagree. The thing is, all of that can happen without fighting. It is possible to learn how to stop fighting in a relationship.
I know you’ve probably heard that fighting is good for a relationship. If you stop fighting, things are going downhill. But, that just isn’t true. Communicating is healthy for a relationship. If you stop talking, that is when things aren’t good.
So, if you’re looking to stop fighting in a relationship, great, but the goal should be to change how you fight. If you stop altogether, you lose your connection and communication.
[Read: Why fighting is important in a relationship… if you do it right]
Why you should stop fighting in a relationship
I know you came looking for this article because you want to stop fighting in a relationship. It is a great first step. Whether fighting gets you down or you think your relationship is overrun with yelling and screaming, you can do it.
But, before you start actively learning how to stop fighting in a relationship, it is important to know exactly why fighting isn’t the healthiest way to deal with issues that arise.
First off, it is exhausting. I’m sure you already know that. When you are in the heat of a fight, you have adrenaline pulsing through your veins, but afterwards you are emotionally and probably physically exhausted.
When you fight in a relationship, you aren’t communicating. You are letting out your anger and reactions quickly. Whether it is bickering or a screaming match, these things push you apart as a couple.
[Read: How to compromise in a relationship and not feel like you are losing out]
You aren’t openly sharing your feelings or listening to the other person when you’re fighting. Fighting encourages a defensive stance which closes you off to each other and prevents you from coming to a compromise.
When you fight, you give into anger or frustration and can end up saying something you regret. Things cannot be unsaid, and eventually apologizing for what you said in the moment won’t mean much if it keeps happening.
I have heard people say when you fight in a relationship, it means you have passion. You might watch Noah and Allie in The Notebook and believe their dysfunctional fighting is what made them so intense and lasting, but that’s a story. [Read: 8 famous movies that teach bad lessons about love]
In reality, it is rare for a couple wobbling on the edge of fights regularly to last.
When you take the time to cool off instead of fighting, you can come together safely and actually work out whatever the problem is instead of making it worse.
[Read: A guide on effective communication in a relationship]
How to stop fighting in a relationship
You were already eager to stop fighting in a relationship, but now I hope I’ve motivated you even more. Changing such a natural and learned behavior within your relationship is not going to be easy. It isn’t just you who must relearn how to handle disagreements. You can’t be the only one trying to communicate better.
You can kick off this change, but your partner should be willing to put in the effort. I know fighting is exhausting, but the effort needed to really learn how to discuss things is more intense.
To stop fighting, you should be able to relax, listen, speak, and open up. You need to trust your partner and they need to trust you. Without trust, fighting will take over or silence will ensue. [Read: 8 things you have to tell yourself when you fight with someone you love]
So, what can you do to learn how to stop fighting in a relationship and start really talking?
#1 Cool down. Fights usually erupt quickly. One thing is said and the other person reacts immediately, and it only gets worse from there. Next time you feel that fury coming on, step back and cool down.
If you’re furious about something before jumping to conclusions or accusing, just breathe. Focus on what you really want to say and get across to your partner rather than the intense emotions you felt in the moment. [Read: These signs of a lack of respect in a relationship you can’t ignore]
#2 Evaluate the situation. Are you really mad that your partner forgot to turn on the dishwasher or that they didn’t tell you their mom was coming to stay for a week? Think about the argument at hand and what it’s really about.
Does this require a sit-down discussion about how you feel and what you need? [Read: 23 dos and don’ts of a relationship argument you should never ignore]
#3 Take turns. Fights often become screaming matches where one of you is yelling over the other and interrupting. Take turns sharing what you have to say. Don’t shut down because you feel uncomfortable. Let them say what they need to say and then take your turn. Ask questions and get clarity. [Read: 6 things you should never, ever say in relationship fights]
#4 Really listen. When you fight in a relationship, you focus on what you want to say and what you want out of it, but it won’t lead to reconciliation. It will lead to defensiveness.
Instead, really hear your partner and what they are saying so you can respond back to them, not the situation.
#5 Be willing to compromise. You should be willing to meet your partner halfway or at least consider their stance. Fights get out of hand when both people are stubborn. If you both won’t even bend a bit and see things from the other’s perspective, it’s difficult to move forward.
#6 Pause. If things are just going in circles or you feel tensions getting high, take a break. That whole myth about not going to sleep angry is a load of crap. Take a break. Go get some food. Go to sleep. You can come back to this argument with a clear mind later. [Read: 13 foundations of a good relationship that separate the good from the bad]
#7 Use “I” messages. I know this is cheesy, and you probably learned about “I” messages from your guidance counselor in middle school, but they work. When you are arguing with your partner don’t say “you did …”
Don’t accuse them. Instead, start with how you feel. You can say “I feel frustrated when my needs aren’t acknowledged” or “I can’t help but feel hurt when I hear such angry words.” This will clue your partner into how you’re feeling rather than making them feel attacked.
#8 Don’t wait. If something is bothering you, calmly bring it up. Take the time you need to sort through your anger, and then talk to your partner. If you bury the things that are upsetting you, they will surely come out later when you are simply bickering about what to have for dinner.
By getting things out in the open, you prevent resentment from causing more severe issues.
#9 Don’t try to win. Remember you and your partner are on the same team. You both want a peaceful outcome you can both be happy with. If you pit yourself against them, you are pushing them away. Instead of being right or making your point, remember the purpose of the argument is to grow closer together not further apart. [Read: 15 rules to be a good partner in a relationship]
#10 Consider therapy. If you’ve tried all of this and still struggle with keeping your cool, consider couples therapy. Admitting you need outside help can feel like you failed, but it actually shows your strength.
It shows your acceptance of your issues and desire to work on them. Accepting and even asking for help is the best thing you can do if you are still fighting in a relationship.
[Read: The 25 clues relationship therapy can help your relationship]
Learning how to stop fighting in a relationship takes patience and practice. But you can turn your fights into learning experiences and come out stronger on the other side.
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