Portland Marriage Counseling: Healthy Ways to Approach a Fight

October 1, 2014 by

If someone ever offers you advice on how to stop fighting in your relationship, you should be skeptical. A certain amount of conflict in relationships is inevitable, and it can actually be healthy if you approach it in the right way (after all, honesty is a much better policy than bottling up your emotions). The important thing is to fight in a way that allows you and your partner to explain how you’re feeling without attacking the other person and that allows you to work towards a solution together. Here are 6 approaches to consider the next time you and your partner get into a fight.

Set aside a time and place for the argument. Don’t initiate a fight with your partner when one of you is tired, distracted, or otherwise not in a good frame of mind to address the issue. Instead, say something like, “We need to talk about this, but I can see that now isn’t a good time. When can we talk?” Make sure you have your argument in a space where you both feel safe, at a time when you can fully focus on each other.

Initiate a “cooling off” period. If a fight is beginning to get heated, pause and ask your partner if you can take fifteen minutes to cool off. Use this time to step out of the room, go for a walk, or do anything else that helps you calm down. When you and your partner return, you should concentrate on speaking in a calm tone to keep the fight from escalating.

Look for the source of the problem. If you’re fighting about one of you forgetting to unload the dishwasher, the fight probably isn’t actually about kitchen chores. Maybe it’s about one person feeling like they are taking on more of the household responsibilities, or feeling frustrated that their partner keeps forgetting to do things they promised to do earlier. Make sure you and your partner are both on the same page by reflecting on—and sharing—what you think the fight is really about.

Stay on topic. Don’t bring up past grievances or attempt to suggest that the problem is based on your partner’s characteristics. Instead, agree with your partner that you’re both going to concentrate on the current problem and how to resolve it. If you get off topic, pause and agree to get back on track together.

Set aside time for both of you to speak. It’s not going to be a fair fight if only one of you gets to say what they think. Make an agreement with your partner that you’ll both take turns talking and that you won’t interrupt or talk over the other person. If you feel you need clarification about something that your partner is saying, you can ask them once they finish their turn.

Make small concessions. Don’t view it as weakness if you’re the first person to make a concession. Your fight isn’t about winning and losing, after all, it’s about coming to a resolution that works for both you and your partner. You may find that if you step forward and make the first concession, your partner will be more willing to offer their own compromise.

If you’re having trouble sticking to these rules for fair fighting, try Portland marriage counseling. Attending counseling can help you learn how to better communicate and empathize with your partner during your next argument.