As with all relationships, couples disagree on things. There are a few key factors however that differenciate lasting, loving couples from the rest. Here are some tips on how to get your relationship back on track after an intense argument.
If you’re in an unhappy, unhealthy relationship, that’s one thing. Sometimes you just need to know when it’s time to call it quits. But if we all gave up after every fight, everyone would end up alone don’t you think?. So let’s assume for the sake of me writing this that you’re in an otherwise healthy overall loving and supportive relationship and just need to shake off a recent fight. You’ve said some things you regret. Maybe even did something you wish you could take back. Here are a few ways to bounce back after you’ve both decided the fight is over.
Don’t Drag It Out
When the dust has settled after a fight, your emotions might still be running high. You may be tempted to throw in some last minute passive-aggressive jabs or things you thought of post argument that sounded good and you still want to get it out. Maybe you want to make your point. Maybe you just want to get back at the other person to make sure the pain is matched that you’re feeling currently. Either way, these jabs, as small as they may be, only prolong the nastiness.
It’s easy to disguise these remarks as jokes, too. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have a sense of humor about things, but you’re probably both a little sensitive after an argument. Your partner might take a joke the wrong way. Here’s what HelpGuide has to say about it:
Humor can only help you overcome relationship problems when both partners are in on the joke. It’s important to be sensitive to the other person’s current feelings. If your partner or friend isn’t likely to appreciate the joke, don’t say or do it, even if it’s “all in good fun.” When the joking is one-sided rather than mutual, it’s deemed as mean and it undermines trust and goodwill which can damage the relationship.
This is usually the stage where you might feel like you’re walking on eggshells until things go back to normal, but this is way better than prolonging the fight.
Give Them Space
Give them a little space, but also take some space yourself. After things get ugly, you will need some time alone to reflect, recover, or heal. Yhis is healthy. You might need to not be around your partner altogether while the bulk of your negative feelings pass, and that’s okay too.
However, if your partner needs space and you don’t, it can be disconcerting on your part. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Avoid clinging: Sometimes one partner want space after a fight, whereas the other feels clingy and wants to rush things back to normal. It might feel satisfying to have your partner nearby, but the time they take to reflect can strengthen the relationship in the long-term. Being clingy can also make things worse when that person needs to take a time out.
Reflect: Take the time to focus on your own thoughts and feelings, too. Look at where you went wrong and where you can improve during the next disagreement.
Don’t punish them: If your partner says he or she needs some time alone, respect that. Don’t take it personally and later withhold yourself from them as a retaliating punishment.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Elizabeth Bernstein, psychologist Dr. Hal Shorey explains that it’s important to wait to talk. Space can give you the necessary time to cool down:
“You don’t want to have a discussion while the other person is still hot,” Dr. Shorey says. “I can’t tell you how many people will think it’s better to say right away: ‘I’m sorry. I was a jerk.’ And the other person says, ‘Yes, you were.’ And then the argument escalates again.”
Of course, if you need space, you may want to reassure your partner that you love them and things will be okay. ” I love you but I just need some time.”
A little emotional support can go a long way, even if you need to go cool off.
Now I know this is super cliche, but communication really is key in any relationship. To get back on track with your partner, it’s important to understand and communicate how you feel about the situation, respectively. Even if you don’t know how you feel, or you feel like you need time alone, you should let the other person know where you stand. It can be hard to communicate honestly and calmly after a fight, but eHow puts it this way:
Go out of your way to be open with them, no matter how hard it may seem as first. If you do not know what your partner expects of you and they doesn’t know what you expect of them, you are both setting yourself up for a lot of misunderstandings and a potentially big disaster and dissappointment.
If you’re having a more detailed conversation to reflect on the fight, keep a couple of things in mind to keep from opening up recent wounds:
Give up the need to be right: Accept responsibility for how you made your partner feel. For the well-being of the relationship, give up the need to drive home your point.
Don’t be defensive: This goes hand-in-hand with the above. If your behavior made your partner feel a certain way, give up your need to defend yourself. This could keep the argument going. Accept their feelings and consider the big picture. If you really feel you need to clarify why you behaved a certain way, you can always do this later, when the fight is truly over and things have calmed down.
Accept that the relationship might take some time to fully heal, but schedule some time to check back in about where you stand after some time has passed. This could be especially useful for more intense fights.
It may also be helpful to come to an agreement and set boundaries and rules for the future. In reflecting on the fight, consider what you could do differently next time. The University of Texas’ Mental Health Center has some ground rules to get you started:
Deal with only one issue at a time. Don’t introduce other topics until each is fully discussed. This avoids the “kitchen sink” effect where people throw in all their complaints while not allowing anything to be resolved. No hitting below the belt. Attacking areas of personal sensitivity creates an atmosphere of distrust, anger, and vulnerability. Avoid accusations. Accusations will lead others to focus on defending themselves rather than on understanding you. Instead, talk about how someone’s actions made you feel.
It’s rarely productive or a good idea to force things, but there’s something to be said for “fake it til you make it.” Remember why you fell in love with that person in the first place! When you find yourself in a funky mood after a fight, sometimes it helps to simply be kind and affectionate to each other. eHow explains this:
Show a little love and caring by sharing sweet words and actions. Relationships often experience hostility and resentment when one or both parties feel unappreciated or unloved… Whether it is engaging in small acts of affection (such as giving your boyfriend a pat on the back as you walk out the house in the morning) or sending him a “just because I care” text message when he’s at work, the little things can go a long way.
This may not work as well if you’re still really steamed. But it’s a good start if you’re feeling stuck. A little kindness could serve as a reminder that you care about each other, and you care about the relationship and are in this together. You don’t have to pretend like nothing happened; it’s just a little nudge in the right direction.
Talk To a Professional
If you’re really having trouble seeing eye-to-eye, it could be that the conflict isn’t truly over. In this case, it might be best to talk to a professional. A counselor or therapist can help you understand your feelings and work through them in one way or another.
Recovering from a fight can take time. Even if you’ve both agreed that the fight is over, it can be hard to move past that situation and get back to where you were. Ultimately, communication, understanding, and respect will do well to get your relationship back on track.