THE BLOG
08/18/2015 11:28 am ET Updated Aug 18, 2016

5 Things You Should Never Do During an Argument and What To Do Instead

Shutterstock / Peter Bernik

Have you ever felt so sad, misunderstood and lonely in your relationship that you got mad, withdrew from your partner or even sulked? Well you are not alone. This is a common reaction most people have when they are feeling hurt, neglected or under appreciated by their partner. However, the problem is that this approach doesn't work and actually causes you and your partner to grow further apart.

Over the past 10 years as a therapist, I have gotten an insider view of the main challenges that many couples face. And one of the common needs that most individuals have is the desire to be loved and understood. And one of the main internal struggles that many people face in their relationship at times is the inability to love and understand their partner when they are dealing with their own intense emotions, racing thoughts or even the physical discomfort when their own needs are not being met.

Unfortunately this barrier to loving and understanding often causes couples to feel distant if they don't have the communication tools to reconnect and understand one another again. The following step-by-step game plan will help you manage your emotions more effectively when feeling vulnerable or hurt so you can start incorporating the skills needed to thrive in your relationship.

1. Recognize your tendency to defend yourself: Often times you may go into defense mode when you face a real or imagined threat in your relationship. This strategy can often lead to more chaos and complications because your fears and insecurities cause you to react in ways that consequentially trigger your partner to follow suit and experience their own real or imagined threat. This can send you both into a spiral; however, by managing your fears and modifying your defensive behaviors you can help reduce the tension and start breaking out of this negative communication pattern.

2. Are you interpreting? Get out of your partner's head. Couples sometimes skip a step and jump to conclusions about what their partner is meaning or "really" saying. This can get couples lost, confused, exhausted and caught up in a web of huge misunderstandings. And here's the truth. We are not magic mind readers so we can't truly know what other people are thinking just because we think it. Being wary of these tendencies can help keep you out of trouble. And by implementing the next steps and continuing to expand your relationship skills you move one step closer to more harmony, energy, quality time and connection with the one you love.

3. Take a time out breather: If you find yourself getting upset it is important to slow down, breath and not act on your impulses or urges. Set aside 5-10 minutes to take a walk outside, journal your thoughts and feelings or just breath slowly in a quiet space alone. This can change your mindset significantly and help you be more intentional and conscientious of your actions.

4. Remember what kind of environment you want to create in your relationship: Often times when we are in the heat of the moment we lose sight of all reason. We forget to be intentional with our words and actions and this can get us into big trouble. If two people are unconsciously reacting to one another they are typically acting out of fear as opposed to love, which can cause a lot of damage to the relationship. By remembering what kind of relationship you want to create with your partner, you can make conscious choices that steer you in the right direction towards Lover's Lane.

5. Notice what is going on in your heart: Sometimes we may feel so overwhelmed by the sea of thoughts running through our head that we unconsciously neglect our feelings or body sensations all together. However, it is important for us to check in and see what is going on below the surface. Are you feeling sad? Alone? Rejected? Do you feel tension in your arms or have a headache? This can help you start gaining insight into what is truly going on inside underneath the anger, so you can begin to communicate with your partner in a much more productive and authentic way.

If you would like to access additional relationship resources: Avoid the 4 Common Mistakes Many Couples Make And Know What To Do Instead, 8 Strategies To Strengthen Your Emotional And Physical Bond With Your Partner and Improve Communication In 10 Minutes Or Less simply visit www.CreateARelationshipYouLove.com to get access to my Free 3 Part Video Series today.

Andrea Cairella is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and owner of TruePotentialCounseling.com based in Long Beach, CA. She works with adults and children and specializes in couples issues, trauma, addiction, anxiety and self-esteem.