THE BLOG

A Couple's Guide to Better Arguing

06/24/2015 12:18 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2016

Did you know that a good clean fight with your partner could strengthen your relationship? That's right, healthy skirmishes improve intimacy and communication. However, there's one catch: You have to know how to argue.

The Wrong Way to Fight
Let's examine some classic mistakes to avoid when brawling with your partner.

  • Attacking Each Other
  • No matter how angry you are, never attack your partner's character; name-calling, labeling, or using sensitive personal information to prove a point always end in disaster. Don't be a hothead. When frustrated, stay calm, lead with a positive feeling; remind your partner that even though you're angry, you still value your relationship above any disagreement.

  • Wanting to Win
  • Ditch the win/lose scenario. Stop trying to defeat or convert your partner to your point of view. Striving to win arguments increases conflict and amplifies hurt feelings at the expense of your relationship.

  • Saying Too Much
  • If, during an argument, your partner drops the line "I'm going to be honest with you . . ." brace yourself for a low blow. Raw honesty during quarrels is often brutality with a smiling face. If you're upset with your partner, don't be hasty; take a break, and think your feelings through. Cool off, call a close friend and gain some perspective. Being blabbermouth in the heat of an argument will do more harm than good.

  • Avoiding Conflicts
  • People who avoid conflicts store up a lot of unrelieved emotional tension and suffer psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches, backaches, insomnia or lack of sex drive. Others may swallow their frustrations and let them simmer until they explode in angry rages. Neither enriches a relationship. Speak up, address conflicts thoughtfully and resolve them together.

  • Fighting Under Stressful Conditions
  • For goodness sake, don't argue when your partner is sick, exhausted, intoxicated, excessively hungry or recovering from an injury or trauma. These conditions magnify and intensify feelings, especially irritability. When you don't have your wits about you, it's not the time to discuss difficult or sensitive subjects.

    How to Fight Better
    Next time your feel a clash coming on, keep these tips in mind.

    • Agree to Disagree
    • No couple agrees all the time. Healthy couples tolerate and value the opinion of their partner, even when they disagree. Next time you scuffle don't be stubborn; stay composed and flexible. Find a way to admire your partner's moxie.

  • Hit the Pause Button
  • When an argument reaches a boiling point, call a timeout. Stop talking, and get away from each other. Survey your thoughts and feelings. Ask yourself, "Is this really worth fighting about?" "Am I dumping my stress on my partner?" Mindful consideration is vital in protecting your relationship from unnecessary wear and tear.

  • Express Your Concerns
  • Many couples make the mistake of withholding concerns from each other. They hide their emotions in an effort to appear strong or protect their partner from their negative feelings. Such choices weigh down a relationships and sap affection. The most intimate couples are best friends because of the authenticity of their communication. Go ahead, voice your concerns; you may discover your partner shares them as well.

  • Apologize
  • New flash: human beings make mistakes. We screw up. Don't be hardheaded or prideful about blunders. Apologizing makes you a bigger person and boosts your humanity. Of course, that doesn't mean you spend your life asking for forgiveness. But if you've done harm, intentionally or unintentionally, to the one you love, admit your mistake. Snuff out pridefulness before it breeds resentment.

    From Conflict to Closeness
    Intimate relationships rouse anxieties from their slumber and awaken our earliest, unmet emotional needs. The closer you get to someone, the more you do battle with your own demons. Learn to argue mindfully, hate each other in a more loving way, and you're guaranteed a long, healthy, and peaceful relationship.