Every couple has arguments. It’s completely normal, and if done with healthy habits, it’s actually beneficial to relationships. However, one of the most common reasons arguments lead to a relationship deteriorating is the fact that we turn them into “them vs me” situations where there’s a winner and a loser.
It’s difficult to get over this need to be right, which makes it that much harder for a couple to recover from a conflict and the emotional strain it causes. We feel hurt, embarrassed, anxious, and angry. And all towards the person we’re supposed to be able to go to for support. This makes us feel lonely and isolated after an argument, which is why it’s crucial we take the right steps to mend our relationships afterwards.
Here are three things you can do to help show your love and get your relationship back on track after an argument.
1. Let yourself cool off
Sometimes we can do or say things during an argument that we don’t mean. Heightened levels of stress and anger can minimize our decision making skills, causing us to be more defensive and to say things that can hurt our partners.
We understand it can be very tough to calm down enough during an argument to start thinking rationally again. One thing you can do to help with this is mutually agreeing that during your next argument, when someone says something hurtful, you’ll both take a short break to calm down and then try to solve the conflict afterwards. This short break will lower levels of anger and resentment.
After you’ve calmed down, swallow your pride and show your partner you care for them by showing initiative. Express ways you can grow and things you can and will do differently in the future. Conflict is never fun, but it can provide opportunities for both individual and mutual growth within your relationship.
2. Realize you don’t have to be right
It’s hard for us to admit we’re wrong. We feel defeated and possibly embarrassed. This is extremely damaging and hurtful to any relationship, whether it’s your relationship with your spouse, kids, friends, or even coworkers. Learn to admit when you’re wrong. Winning an argument isn’t worth pushing your loved ones away.
The benefits of coming to terms with your mistakes are not just beneficial to others, it’s great for your own mental health as well. There are many benefits associated with admitting you’re wrong that will help you become stronger, clear your conscience, makes you humble, as well as many other benefits that will improve your day-to-day life.
3. Acknowledge it happened
It can be hard to confront the fact that you acted a little out of line or irrationally. That’s why many couples will “move on” from an argument and pretend it didn’t happen. However, to learn and grow from an argument, take a moment to think about, or better yet, talk about what happened. Why did the argument start? Did something happen? Was there something else underneath that caused you to lash out?
Reach a conclusion and write a plan on how you’re going to avoid this in the future. If your partner did something you didn’t like, talk about why you don’t like it. If you did something that your partner didn’t like, ask why he or she didn’t like it. Figure out how to compromise to avoid issues in the future.
If stress is causing unnecessary tension between you and your partner, think about how you can release some steam. Go to the gym, play some video games, make a dessert. There are many ways to relax and bring levels of personal stress down so it doesn’t get to the point where you let it out on others or yourself.
4. Prove that you were listening
Conflict usually arises when one person has broken perceived expectations set by the other, and we usually have much higher expectations of our partners than we do of others. Whether it’s something small, like forgetting to pick up milk on the way home, or something bigger, it’s important to have healthy communication between both parties as to what those expectations are and how both people can improve going forward.
The best way to show your partner that you care after these types of conflicts is by proving that you’ve listened. Actively trying to grow and be better through your actions helps express to your partner that you were listening to their needs and are willing to accommodate them. That affirmation is very powerful.
5. Spend some time together
After a fight, emotions will be raw and you may feel disconnected from each other. If this occurs, it’s important to schedule some couple time to reconnect once the tension has simmered. Plan a date night in or a romantic evening out and spend a few moments getting back to where you were before the conflict.
Every couple argues, but those that take the conflict, grow from it, and focus on strengthening their bond regardless of the obstacles are the ones that end up with the strongest relationships.
6. Look into couples therapy
Many couples make the mistake of assuming you have to be on the brink of divorce to go to couples therapy. The reality is even the healthiest marriages can benefit from a few couples therapy sessions. Preventing issues from arising is many times easier than repairing the damage. It’s like the old saying: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
It’s perfectly normal to argue when you’ve been with someone long enough. Your relationship’s future depends on what route you choose to take to resolve these conflicts. Will you take proactive steps to reach a solution that works for both of you? Or will you storm out and expect your partner to apologize? Following the steps and tips we listed above will help you use arguments as another way to actually improve your relationship rather than increase tension that could eventually lead to bigger problems, or worse, divorce.
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