DIVORCE
04/25/2016 02:58 pm ET

What Marriage Experts Do Differently When Arguing With Their Partners

Advice from experts who talk the talk and walk the walk.

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Every couple experiences bumps in their relationship -- and marriage experts certainly aren't immune to that. 

Below, therapists and coaches who dole out advice to couples every day share the rules they've established for getting through arguments in their own relationships. 

1. They know that timing is everything. 

"Patience is critical. It's so important to find the right time to talk with your partner. Sometimes, it's better to wait until the house is calm and all your technology can be turned off." -- Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill, a marriage and family therapist and the author of A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage.

2. They understand that their partner is most likely motivated by hurt.

"One big lesson I've learned is that if you partner is angry, try to understand that they're hurt or sad underneath the anger. Instead of responding with aggression, seek to understand what it is that hurt them and respond to that. Then, validate their feelings and comfort them while looking at how you may have contributed to the problem." -- Irina Firstein, a marriage therapist in New York City

 3. They don't glare at their partners.

"I try to look at my partner with soft eyes. You gaze has to be somewhat unfocused -- almost childlike -- not sharp or alert as we might expect from a person who is actively listening. The reason the soft gaze is so effective is that it communicates non-judgmental listening -- a receptiveness to anything the speaker might want to say. It can bring a sense of peace to the listener as well as the speaker, creating a feedback loop of trust and rapport." -- Robyn Wahlgast, a relationship coach for women 

4. They want to find a resolution ASAP.

"My wife and I get to a resolution quickly. We're able to really hear each other's point, apologize genuinely if appropriate and then get to the most important fight-busting technique: what can we do to make sure this doesn't happen again? Typically, couples get caught up in the fight and never get to resolving the matter. Sadly, the negative feelings always return pretty soon when the next unresolved issue blows up." -- M. Gary Neuman, a psychotherapist based in Miami Beach, Florida 

5. They really think about what they're about to say.

"Not all marriage therapists follow their own advice and do what they know is required to keep a marriage alive and thriving: to love, honor and cherish their partner. The therapist who walks the walk argues with their spouse in a gentle, respectful and considerate way. You don't cross boundaries. You have to be mindful of your approach and think about what it means to say something before actually saying it. In short, you have to follow the golden rule: treat others as you'd like others to treat you. As corny as it may sound, I've learned that the ancient rule is what it’s all about." -- Becky Whetstone, a marriage and family therapist in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

6. They don't consider it an argument; they consider it a creative brainstorm.

"When discussing an issue, I try to find solutions, make decisions and sometimes just recognize that my spouse and I need to agree to disagree. It's important for both partners to accept that there are guidelines for arguing. We all need a process when tempers are flying and emotions are running rampant." -- Sharon Gilchrest O’Neill

7. They pay attention to their tone of voice. 

"Bringing up problems has to be done softly, compassionately and in a non-threatening way. Marriage therapists who follow their own advice monitor their tone of voice and are mindful of how they present concerns and issues." -- Becky Whetstone 

8. Their body language is open and welcoming. 

"I try to be relaxed in my body language: My arms remain open, not crossed, my shoulders stay relaxed. This is a vulnerable posture and won’t be instinctive in the middle of an argument, which is why it's important to practice these moves as often as possible. Men tend to be skeptical of verbal reassurances -- saying 'I’m open to hearing your side,' for instance -- but open body language is a way to show them that you really are receptive." -- Robyn Wahlgast

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