No one wants to fight with their partner, but we all do, don’t we? When you’re so in love with a person and spend so much time building a life with them, you’re going to have some disagreements. Instead of letting these arguments get under your skin and throw your relationship off course, read these tips so you’ll be prepared to have a calmer, fairer fight in your relationship.

1. Avoid generalizations and be specific.

When you’re fighting, you often just say whatever’s on your mind without thinking of how it will sound to your partner. When you say, “You always do this,” or, “You never say that,” you’re making your partner out to be inconsiderate, like they keep making the same mistakes. Think before you speak, and take away the ‘you always’ and ‘you never’ qualifiers. These phrases put your partner on the defense and they will immediately come back with, “I don’t always…,” which will derail your argument. Reference specific times when your partner forgot to do or say something and only say these things, instead of making them feel like you’re dumping everything on them at once.

2. Set out to become closer, not to win.

It’s really hard to not want to win a fight. In fact, it’s one of my biggest problems. I think I’m right, and therefore I want to win and be proven right. But that’s not fair in a relationship. During a fight, you should be trying to understand your partner’s point of view. You’re having a disagreement because you don’t see eye to eye on an issue. You already know your opinion, so take time to listen to your partner. Once you hear their thoughts, you’ll feel closer to them. You’ll know them better, and can see things from their point of view in the future.

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3. Negotiate and compromise.

Instead of winning, try to make sure everyone gets what they want. Okay, that’s nearly impossible, but you can at least make sure each of you get a little something that you want. Compromising means you both give up something, but you both get something, and this will help move your relationship forward.

4. Establish a plan to move forward.

Once you discuss a compromise you can both live with, establish a plan to implement this compromise in your daily lives. When you both know what is expected, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to keep this fight from happening again. You can both follow the plan you mapped out and know that your partner will be happy with what’s being done to change the relationship.

5. Consider taking time to cool off.

Fights won’t always be resolved quickly. Sometimes they can go on for hours, or even days! You’re advised to not go to bed angry, but sometimes it’s got to happen. Sleeping isn’t the worst thing to do during the middle of an argument, because when you wake up you might not feel as on guard and set in your ways. You don’t have to take an overnight break, though. Taking a few minutes apart to cool off and calm down will more than likely help put the fight, and your position in it, into perspective.

6. Use humor to tone down an argument.

Using humor during an argument is a really helpful tip because if you or your partner crack a joke, you’ll laugh, lighten the mood, and remember that you love this person because they make your life fun. Laughing during a fight can break the tension and make you realize that the fight is kind of ridiculous. Be careful with this tip, though, because if you’re having a very serious argument, cracking a joke might make you seem heartless, like you’re not as invested in finding a resolution as your partner is.

7. Look at and touch your partner.

It’s easy to be angry at someone if you’re not standing right in front of them or looking at them. When you want to have a serious discussion with your partner, sit down next to or across from them and frequently make eye contact. Looking deep into your love’s eyes will remind you how strongly you feel for them, and might take some of the edge off the disagreement. The same goes for touching; feeling your partner’s skin, realizing they’re a real person with flaws and emotions, will help keep you grounded instead of just hurling insults at them from across the room.

8. Respect your partner’s tears.

Sometimes it’s frustrating when your partner cries mid-fight because the tears don’t seem to be accomplishing anything. You want to talk over your lover’s sobs and prove your opinion, or take that time to hit your point home and make them feel worse while they’re already crying. Don’t do any of those things, regardless of how angry or defeated those tears may make you feel. Sit down beside your partner and rub their back; the closeness and the sensitive touch will help ease their tears and might even take some tension out of the disagreement. If you can’t make yourself feel sensitive to their tears, then take this time to leave the room and cool off yourself. You both will feel more levelheaded once the crying is over.

9. Don’t multitask – be attentive.

No one ever has time for a fight, and no one ever wants to be engaged in one. But when you are, focus purely on the fight. Don’t pick up your phone and text friends or surf the web. Don’t wash dishes or hang clothes or do chores. Sit or stand with your partner and really focus on them as a person, as well as what both of you are saying and are trying to resolve in your relationship.

10. Forget the past.

It’s not fair to bring up past arguments or mistakes in your current disagreement, especially if the issue has already been forgiven. If you keep bringing up past problems, the argument may never end! Not to mention that thinking about the past will more than likely make you angrier, because even if you’ve forgiven the issues, you’re still thinking about past fights and that will only make you more eager to win the current disagreement.

11. Stay put.

Unless you both agree to take a break and cool down, don’t walk away from the fight. Even if you’re just going to get a drink of water, stalking off without telling your partner looks like an act of aggression. Instead of staying put and discussing the problem, your partner will think that you’re already giving up and are not willing to talk.

12. Don’t let it ruin the relationship.

What happens if you can’t reach a compromise or you can’t let the issue go? At this point, stop fighting and think about damage control. How much do you value the relationship? Is it worth fighting this hard? If the problem is very important to you, then maybe it is worth ending the relationship. However, you shouldn’t go into the fight thinking you’ll break up because of it. Try to make it work. Most often, the fight will be petty in the scope of the bigger picture, and your love is so valuable that you’re willing to let something go just to stay with your partner. This isn’t failure; this isn’t losing. This is knowing what you value and what you want in your life.

Featured photo credit: soukup via flickr.com

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