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Amy Leigh Mercree

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How To Defuse A Fight With Two Easy Steps

Posted: 12/21/11 11:22 AM ET

He forgot to move the trash and now it's scattered all over the yard by neighborhood animals. She didn't pick up your dry cleaning and now the shop is closed and you don't have your suit for your big presentation tomorrow morning. He made the most insensitive comment at the worst time. She is so irrational about her family!

There are a ton of reasons why couples fight, but there are even more reasons for people who love each other to defuse some of these disagreements. When you fight there is friction, discord, disharmony. At the core of your relationship there is love, regard, caring for each other and too much yelling and snide comments erode that core of love. You need to treasure it and protect it. You have to choose your battles. Does it really matter which of you is right about the title of that old movie? Harmony is sometimes more important than being right. Your marriage is something precious and you can choose to protect it.

There are two easy steps you can take to stop a fight in its tracks.

1) Hit The Pause Button

You disagree about something. As soon as you realize that is happening, hit the pause button. Stop. Walk away if you have to. Talk about these steps before the fight happens so when you say, "Pause," your husband or wife knows you are going to stop talking and possibly walk away for a few minutes.

Hitting the pause button helps you both to take a few deep breaths and ideally, relax out of the tension the disagreement created. Then you can let the adrenaline drain away and you will think and feel more clearly. Just a few minutes and a few deep breaths go a very long way. All the better if your partner is on board with this plan and takes his or her calming breaths as well.

2) Choose Kindness

Next, put the focus on kindness. You love this person and, of course, once you are out of the emotion of the argument, you only want to love and accept them. Take a few minutes to look at how you can do that. What kind words or behaviors could mend this disagreement. And is the disagreement more important than being kind to your partner? Is it really an important thing? Sometimes it is. Sometimes it is a serious issue, like you don't feel like he listened when you told him you are not comfortable with him discussing private marital matters with his buddies from work. Then, yes, it is important to talk about the issue. Remember, this is the person who you love so much that you decided to spend the rest of your life together, so choose kindness. How can you express your feelings and boundaries while still being kind to each other? Try statements like, "Because I asked you not to discuss our love life with your friends, when you do I feel like you didn't hear me and the message I get is that my feelings are not important to you. That makes me upset and sad because I love you and want each of us treat each others' feelings with care."

A loving partner will almost always respond to these statements with kindness. It expresses your feelings but it also reinforces your love for him. Kindness begets more kindness. Getting heated, over the top angry, and emotional rarely helps resolve actual issues. Remember to hit the pause button and choose kindness. Your relationship will thank you for it!