All couples fight. Whether it’s over stupid things like who ate the last cookie or big things like money (the number one thing couples fight about), arguing with your partner is just part of being in a relationship. Actually, keeping it all in and avoiding fights is much worse for a couple than the occasional brawl.
Studies have found that fighting isn’t just healthy for couples, but necessary. However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about fighting with your partner. Doing it the right way is healthy and productive, and is likely to end in a resolution, while the wrong way is just a hot mess that can lead to days of not talking, and eventual resentment. And, at worst, a breakup. Because that’s the case, it’s important to learn how to fight with your partner in a healthy way.
Here are seven tips on how to fight without wrecking your relationship:
1. Choose your battle.
It’s important to realize what’s worth fighting about and what isn’t. Do you really need to have a full-blown fight over the fact that your partner didn’t put a new roll of toilet paper in the bathroom? Not really. Yes, it’s annoying and may have forced you to waddle, with your pants down around your knees, to get a new roll in the hallway closet, but it’s really not worth a screaming match.
2. Have a snack before you get into it.
What? I know. It does sound weird, but according to a 2014 study, not only do our chances of fighting increase when we’re hungry, but we’re more likely to let the argument get out of control. Being hangry is a real problem, not just in how miserable it makes you feel, but in how miserable it will make your partner feel when you go for the jugular.
3. Be wary of your environment.
When fighting, it’s important to find neutral ground. For example, you don’t want to do it in someone’s home office, because they have the advantage, nor do you want to do it in the car where whoever is driving is able to avoid eye contact. (Also you might crash.) You want to find a place where the playing field is even and eye contact is absolutely part of the equation.
4. Be mature.
Who hasn’t wanted to lash out and make personal attacks during a fight? Sometimes it almost feels easier to tell your partner they’re stupid, than find the strength necessary to formulate mature thoughts and words, but don’t hit below the belt. No one gets anywhere by taking the immature route in a fight.
5. Don’t dominate the situation.
A healthy fight should be one that allows for both parties to have their say. While it may feel like you just want to scream and scream until your head explodes, that’s the furthest thing from productive. Have your say, then let you partner have their say – and don’t interrupt them. It’s important to play fair.
6. Try to see things from their perspective.
Gah – totally easier said than done, I know, but this one is an important thing to try to master when it comes to fighting with your partner. You may think your partner is dead wrong, but if you want to move forward and put the argument behind you, you need to try, as much as it pains you, to see their point of view. Yes, you think everything they’re saying is absurd, but ask yourself why your partner thinks that what they’re saying makes sense.
7. Bring in a third party if you can’t resolve it.
If you’re finding that you’re arguing more often than not and you never really reach a resolution, then it’s time to bring in a professional. A marriage/relationship counselor can help both you and your partner see the situation clearly by giving an unbiased opinion. Maybe then you can finally get back on track to and start loving again, instead of hating.