5 Ways to Diffuse an Argument with your Spouse
If you’re like most people, you don’t like to be wrong. You have in your head how you want things to be and, when they don’t go your way, it’s hard to see others’ perspectives. This seems to be especially difficult when it comes to communicating with your spouse. Like most couples, we argue. We also work, together, however, on finding ways to avoid arguments. Here are 5 ways that we’ve found to diffuse an argument with your spouse.
Remember Your Relationship
When it comes time to listen to your spouse, go into the conversation remembering the relationship that you share. If the topic is a heavy one, or you know that you might feel defensive in some way, focus, not on the uncomfortable feelings, but instead on the connection that you share with the other person and how much you care for them. Remind yourself that they would never do anything to hurt you, just as you wouldn’t want to hurt them.
We work hard to remind one another each day of our connection. When going into one of those talks, we always start it with a quick kiss or “I love you.” It helps us to take a step back and remember what’s important before discussing the topic at hand.
There’s a reason why advice, when you’re worked up, is to “take a deep breath and count to 10.” It is because it gives you a few seconds to collect yourself and think more clearly, giving you time to be sure that you’re being a good listener and giving all that you can of yourself to the conversation.
In our family, as we have challenging conversations, we often ask one another for time-outs. It’s not that we want to walk away and not return to the conversation, but that we need just a moment to think (and breathe) before we speak. This is a crucial way to diffuse an argument.
Get Past Yourself
As the conversation heats up, it’s often difficult to remember that your spouse feels strongly about his/her opinions too. Rather than placing all of your energy on trying to make him/her feel the way that you do, try to see things from his/her perspective. If you take a moment to collect yourself (and breathe, as already mentioned) try to think about why your spouse feels as strongly as they do.
When you return to the conversation, after trying to put yourself in the other’s place, enter calmly and try to use the phrase “I understand why you feel…” This approach has worked for us and has helped us to place the focus on our feelings for each other rather than the prideful desire to be right.
Have a Signal or Inside Joke
Setting up a signal to indicate that you don’t want to fight can be great for helping to diffuse more challenging times. Whether it’s using the “time out” sign, sincerely blowing the other a kiss or waving a white flag, a physical signal that you can show the other can help to indicate that you don’t want things to get out of hand and aren’t looking for an argument.
Similar to a physical signal, an inside joke can stop a fight in its tracks. If things start to get heated, referring to something that you both take joy in, or recalling something that you experienced together can help bring humor to both of you. Once you get laughing, you may be better able to talk through things, rather than argue.
In times where we’re having more difficult conversations, we take turns with “remember when we…” stories. They vary from one experience to another, but if we change the topic, just for a moment, we’re able to collect our thoughts and have a better thought-out discussion.
Walk away (Nicely!)
If you feel that an argument is imminent and you’ve tried everything else to diffuse it, it may be time to walk away. Rather than stomping out of the room and slamming the door (only makes things worse) explain that you don’t want to say anything unkind and need some time to yourself. Then walk away and go to another room. Once you both have calmed down, you may be better able to talk.
We work to remember that part of having a strong marriage is giving one another space…especially when talk gets heated. By removing ourselves from the situation we’re able to make sure that we are being respectful of one another and our relationship.
Do you have other ideas on how to diffuse an argument with your spouse? Please share what works for you!
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About Mike + Carlie Kercheval
Mike + Carlie Kercheval are college sweethearts + have been passionately married since June 2000. They have been blessed with three precious children and are in their 15th year of homeschooling. Together they co-authored of the best-selling couples devotional, Consecrated Conversations™. Mike + Carlie founded Christian Marriage Adventures™ to help couples create their legacy with intention. They co-host The Marriage Legacy Builders Podcast and Legacy Marriage Builders Monthly Marriage Mentorship program.
Making up after an argument is more than just saying you’re sorry.
Jason and Kate had one of those late-night arguments last night…again. It wasn’t one of their worst, but it left them both feeling raw. The next morning was awkward, circling around each other in the kitchen as they got coffee. One of them finally mumbled an apology, and the other did the same, both trying to just put it behind them. Case closed.
There are a lot of ways couples try to mop up after an argument: Jason and Kate’s mumbled apologies; for others, make-up sex, or several days of deep-freeze during which no one talks until it somehow gradually defrosts, but nothing more is said as things go back to “normal”.
Disagreements will flare up in any close relationship, and there are two parts to them:
At the front-end is the way the argument unfolds. This is about balance and containment. The balance is exactly that — that both partners need to feel safe enough to speak up. It doesn’t work when there isn’t that balance — when one person dominates the conversation through rants and bullies and the other person shuts down. Or when both partners shut down, or worse, stop bringing up problems at all. These couples keep everyday conversations superficial, walk on eggshells, and use distance to avoid conflict.
Containment is about keeping the disagreement in emotional bonds — where it doesn’t turn into open warfare in which each person digs up the past to throw more wood on the emotional fire. This is where hurtful things are said and things can get physical, creating emotional or physical scars that don’t go away but create more fear, resentment, and fodder for future arguments.
But then there is the backside of the argument—the making-up.
What You Don’t Want to Do
Don’t pretend it didn’t happen. You skip the apologies and get up on Sunday morning and pretend that what happened last night didn’t.
Don’t continue to punish the other guy. You do the silent treatment, not because you don’t know how to make-up, but because it’s your way of punishing and essentially continuing the argument in another form. Here partners often throw in passive-aggressive behaviors to rub salt into the other’s wounds.
Don’t do the deep-freeze. Even if it’s not about punishment, but anxiety and awkwardness, the deep-freeze creates an awful climate in a relationship as home becomes a who-will-blink-first contest. This is particularly harmful for children, who are forced to walk on eggshells and often naturally and erroneously believe that it is all somehow happening because they did something wrong.
Don’t not apologize. Apologizing is not about saying that the other person is right, i.e., you’re wrong and she wins the argument, but simply about acknowledging that you hurt the other’s feelings. Apologies are simply about taking responsibility for your side of the argument.
Doing It Right
Cool off. You want to cool off in order to get your rational brain back online. If you try to talk too soon, you’re likely to trigger each other again. That said, couples usually differ in how much time they need to calm down (and men often take longer). If you’re not ready yet to come back and make up, simply say, in one sentence, “I’m still upset; I’m not trying to ignore you, I just need more time to cool off.”
Go back and solve the problem that started the argument. The dishes left on the counter, the money spent on shoes or video games, the time the kids need to get to bed. This is where it is easy to fall down. Jason and Kate say they’re sorry, but don’t return to the topic. Why? Because they are afraid it will only turn into another fight. The challenge is to go back and talk about it and solve the problem, rather than sweeping it under the rug.
Your job at this point is to stay sane — pretend you’re at work and act as you would if a coworker did something that bothered you. Resist the urge to plow back into the argument: you said, no I didn’t, if you hadn’t said, etc. Move forward — figure out a plan for dealing with the dishes, the expenses, the bedtime. If it gets hot again, stop, cool off, try again, or write down your solution to the problem, then circle back and talk again.
Figure out the moral of the story of the argument. You want to fix the problem so it doesn’t keep coming up, but you also want to learn something that the argument can teach you about communication and, often, the underlying source of the problem.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Is there a deeper issue underlying the problem?
The dishes are not about dishes but about feeling criticized, or feeling like the other person doesn’t hear you and dismisses your requests, or feeling like you are Cinderella and the other person isn’t doing his or her share of the work. Ditto for money. Bedtime? Different parenting styles, a power struggle about parenting, or something else? Be curious: Dig down, look for the larger pattern that makes the argument merely the tip of the iceberg, then have a conversation about the bigger stuff.
Why did it turn into an argument at all?
Was there something that the other person did that pushed your buttons? Talk about that. Was it because you were both tired and cranky already, or that it was late at night and you both had had a couple of drinks? Talk about that, and how to do it differently going forward. Was it because you were holding things in for a long time and finally blew up? If so, talk about what you need to feel safe to bring things up sooner. Was it because you both had been feeling disconnected from each other, and somehow had subconsciously developed this pattern of picking a fight so you could then have make-up sex or cuddly make-up and get recalibrated? Talk about how to catch the disconnection sooner and develop better ways of bringing you both closer.
The goals here are clear: Solve the problem and learn from the experience so you don’t keep repeating it. The challenge is having the courage to do so, to step up (or step down), and approach your anxiety rather than avoiding it.
The occasional conflict is unavoidable in most long-term relationships. Conflicts with your spouse, however, do not have to end up as major fights or reasons to consider divorce. Resolving an argument in a healthy, productive way is possible with the right strategies. You and your spouse should be on the same page when it comes to resolving conflicts to avoid emotionally draining arguments.
Put Yourself in the Other’s Shoes
Empathizing with your spouse during an argument could diffuse the situation. Put yourself in his or her shoes to consider how the issue might make you feel or react in his or her place. Doing so could open your eyes to a different perspective you had not thought of before, such as how something you do might make your spouse feel. Taking a moment to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes could lead to greater understanding and compassion toward him or her, potentially preventing a larger fight. It could also help you avoid doing things that trigger your spouse’s anger in the future through a deeper understanding of why he or she feels a certain way.
Eat a Meal and Circle Back
First, ask yourself if an external factor is exacerbating your frustration, such as being hungry or tired. Studies have shown that being hungry can have powerful negative effects on mood. Hunger can increase feelings of anger, stress, unpleasantness and hatefulness. This phenomenon, often referred to as being hangry, can lead to multiple fights per year for the average couple. Hanger = danger. Hunger-induced emotional states can intensify an argument with your spouse. If you start fighting with your spouse, both of you should eat a meal and circle back to the conversation. It may surprise you to find that your anger or other negative emotions about the topic have dissipated with a full stomach.
Use “I” Phrases to Express Your Feelings
A well-known conflict resolution strategy for couples is to use “I feel” phrases rather than “You” phrases. For example, instead of saying something to your spouse along the lines of, “You always leave your socks on the floor,” say, “I feel taken advantage of and underappreciated when you leave your socks on the floor.” This reverses the dynamic to express your feelings to your spouse in a healthy way rather than appearing as if you are blaming him or her. In turn, your spouse may be more willing to listen to the problem and come up with a solution rather than having an automatic response of anger or defensiveness.
Don’t Hold Back Your Emotions
Although it might seem like you are avoiding a larger argument by holding back saying what you really feel, research has demonstrated that failing to express one’s anger can actually make a matter worse. Being honest about how you feel is necessary to resolve a problem. Although tackling difficult topics with your spouse may seem counterproductive at the moment, it will benefit the health and stability of your relationship in the long run. Being honest and upfront about your feelings can incite deeper conversations that ultimately help your relationship.
Consider Seeking Professional Help
More and more individuals and couples are engaging in open conversations about mental health and the importance of therapy for resolving conflicts. Seeking help from a professional marriage counselor could be the answer to resolving the problem you and your spouse currently face. Marriage counseling does not mean your relationship is on the rocks or that divorce is inevitable.
In fact, it means the opposite – you and your spouse value your relationship enough to spend time and money on repairing and maintaining it. A professional can pose questions you and your spouse might not have thought of alone, as well as offer proven tactics for problem-solving. The strategies you learn in therapy could help you and your spouse resolve arguments in a healthy way for years to come.
Because what you do after a fight is as important as what you might have done during the argument.
So, you had a big fight with your husband or wife. Maybe it was a three-hour screaming match; maybe it was a 20-minute heated discussion. Maybe it was some combination of the two. Either way, it happened. Things were said. Anger erupted. Feelings were hurt. It happens. The steps you take to reconnect after a big fight are important.
Arguments happen. Big ones. Little ones. It’s completely normal and healthy. Agreeing on everything is not possible. And a marriage without arguments — big or small — is a marriage without productivity. The act of arguing shows that there’s work to do in a relationship and that both partners are, in their way, trying to make something happen, working towards a larger goal, and attempting to understand ways to do better.
That said, what you do after a big fight is as important as what you do — and don’t do — during a fight. It’s easy to float around in the aftermath of an argument and just wait for things to become normal again. Understanding when someone needs time or space is important. But acting like nothing happened is the wrong approach. It’s important to take action so that you both can, eventually, get things back to normal. So, what can be done? Here, in no particular order, are 33 small, nice things to do after a fight.
How do you quickly end a fight with your girlfriend? Nothing wears a guy out more than a relationship fight. After an all night argument, the next morning just doesn’t quite start out on the best note regardless of the outcome. Crucial Conversations suggests people have a tendency to move towards silence or anger in an argument when stakes are high. Sound familiar? Guys are masters of silence and anger.
It goes a little something like this when she gets mad at me: I’m quiet, hoping the problem just passes over, and of course it never does. I think, “Keep your mouth shut….I’m starting to get irritated now.” And then suddenly, this once serene surface erupts like a geyser with all sorts of defensive accusations that get me more in trouble and exponentially grows the fight.
Sleepless nights can be over. Now that I’m married, I’ve discovered I could’ve used 5 quick ways to end a fight with your girlfriend.
1. Lead to end a fight with your girlfriend…
Be the leader in the situation. You might not be able to control how she is acting, but you can control yourself. I read some great advice from blogger James Russell Lingerfelt: “Never blame your wife [or girlfriend] if you get frustrated or angry at her, it is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. They are YOUR emotions, and your responsibility. When you start noticing those feelings erupting inside you, take time to get present, look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed.“ As a leader, you should remain calm, but as a guy we interpret calm as being silent. Don’t be silent. Be honest and never react out of emotion.
2. Stay to end a fight with your girlfriend…
Another way us guys are tempted to react is to leave the room or leave the house. I had a friend tell me when his wife gets upset, he asks, “What are you needing from me?” Let her know you are going to be present until the issue gets resolved. When my wife Kristen gets upset at me, I have found she just wants to know I’m there for her. Let her know you’re in it for the long haul.
3. Demonstrate you care to end a fight with your girlfriend…
Be aware of your actions…they mean more than your words. You can have an opinion, but don’t be defensive. Allow her to speak her mind without interruption. Show her you care. Not only is it important to be present physically, but also emotionally.
4. Admit when you’re wrong to end a fight with your girlfriend…
Arguing you’re right is only going to prolong the fight. It’s not about being right. When a conflict arises, set the pride aside. I’m not suggesting you should be a spineless pushover. I am saying that if you are wrong, be man enough to let go of your pride and admit it. I found some great verbage: “You’re absolutely right, it is my fault and here is what I’ll do to fix it” or “I may be wrong, let’s look at the facts together.” Admit and move on.
5. Share how you feel to end a fight with your girlfriend…
She can’t argue with how you feel, and in fact, she probably is waiting to hear you share your feelings. You can start with: “When you do this, it makes me feel like….” I have learned that being open and vulnerable with how I feel is disarming in a conflict with my wife. I notice that Kristen will instantly shift in her defensiveness and start to relax. Women are nurturers by nature and they want to empower us if we will let them <=my wife clearly edited this sentence.
In the end, you control how you will react. When you are calm and speak gently, the person raising their voice will be forced to match your vocal level. Every girl seemed to have the “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster at one point. It’s good advice for anyone.
Verbal arguments with your spouse or partner can start over something as simple as a cell phone or a set of car keys. Tempers can flare and a heated verbal exchange can ensue. Resolving an argument with your spouse may not be something you want to do. Maybe you’d like to get the upper hand on them by calling the police? However, before things get too far out of hand, you need to remind yourself of what happens when the police get called for a domestic violence dispute. It could end with one or both of you going to jail.
How Police Respond to a Domestic Violence Call:
Police are trained to treat each domestic violence call as a high priority or life-threatening situation. This is because 22% of all “in the line of duty” deaths happen while answering a domestic violence call. Also one-third of all female fatalities are committed by an intimate partner. Even if the call is canceled, the police will still show up to investigate. The police are also trained to observe the situation and utilize discretion when coming close to a residence in question. They don’t always use their sirens, flash any lights, and in some cases, they won’t even turn on their headlights. If a physical altercation has been witnessed by the police or if there is evidence of an assault or battery, a mandatory arrest will be made.
Tips for Resolving an Argument with Your Spouse or Partner Before the Police Get Involved
Know Their Signs for Rising Anger:
This tip is easier for couples that have been together longer than couples who have just met. Try to learn to recognize the signs when your spouse or partner is getting angry. The volume of their voice might rise. Their hand gestures might become more erratic. Some people’s faces could begin to turn red, others may have veins that become visible, and some could contort their face into visible annoyance. In some cases, your spouse or partner might go completely quiet.
Remove Yourself from the Situation:
Leaving is the best thing you can do to diffuse a situation. If you are not intoxicated, get in your car and go for a drive. Visit a family member or someone that you trust to give your spouse or partner time to cool down. If you are unable to drive and you live in a safe neighborhood, then go for a walk. Give you and your partner some space to calm down and a chance to remind yourself what could happen if the police get involved over a verbal dispute. If your partner follows you, politely tell them that you need some time alone and you will resume the conversation when you get back.
Get Past Yourself and Give Up the Need to Be Right:
Conflicts arise because two people have differing views of an idea or situation. In some cases, it just isn’t that important to be right. Take a step back from the situation and let your spouse or partner explain their side of the situation. Listen and let them get out everything they have to say. Once they have stopped talking you should use the phrase “I understand that you feel…” This is a great way of letting them know you heard everything they wanted to get off their chest.
Violence is Never the Answer to Resolving an Argument with Your Spouse or Partner:
Domestic violence charges are a serious matter. Prosecutors pursue criminal charges to keep death rates down and abuse to a minimum. If these tips don’t work to resolve the verbal argument and physical violence has resulted, call the police immediately. They are trained to handle the situation and make sure everyone comes out safely.
Jesse Kalter Law is Ready to Defend Your Freedom Against Domestic Violence Charges
Getting the police involved in a verbal argument and being charged with domestic violence is a stressful and complicated matter, especially if you are innocent of domestic battery. Having an experienced domestic violence lawyer on your side will make sure your truth is heard. Jesse Kalter has obtained countless dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and reduced charges due to his tenacious pursuit of justice. He is available day or night to make sure you get through this exceptionally trying time. Jesse Kalter is available to serve the people of Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Fallon, Fernley, Dayton, Yerington, Douglas County, and all other Northern NV rural counties.
If You Couldn’t Resolve Your Argument Before the Police Got Involved
Contact Jesse Kalter Today for a Confidential Case Evaluation and Consultation
CLICK HERE to Contact Him Online or Call 775-331-3888
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Here at the Babylon Bee, we enjoy perfect marriages with our smokin’ hot wives. We understand not everyone is perfect though– sometimes you get into arguments with your wife. (Haha! Noob!)
To help you navigate these difficult talks, be sure to follow these expert arguing tips from the marriage experts at The Bee.
1. As soon as you start arguing, take off your shirt to distract her with your greek god body: She will immediately be overcome with desire and completely forget that she’s mad at you.
2. Use cold, hard reason meticulously explained and re-explained: Using logic and reason in an argument with your wife will help her immediately understand how ridiculous she’s being. Problem solved!
3. Ask her if she’s on her period: Then just tell her lovingly that you know this is just because of the lady hormones and won’t hold it against her.
4. Helpfully suggest she calm down: Sometimes, wives forget to calm down. One helpful reminder and all tempers will dissipate! You’re a genius!
5. Make an excel spreadsheet so you can follow the argument better: Sometimes, arguments with your wife will branch off into multiple unexpected paths at once. Keep track so you can address each issue, and check it off your list as you do!
6. Remind her that the thing she just said sounds like something her mother would say: Also remind her that your mother never talks to you like this.
7. Threaten to boycott mowing the lawn: She might try to mow the lawn herself, but she won’t be able to pull that crank start thingy. She’ll realize just how essential you are!
8. Bring in all the kids and ask them to vote on who is right: This will also help you figure out which kids are on your side and which ones you need to keep an eye on.
There you have it! Enjoy many decades of a happy marriage!
NOT SATIRE: Do you need a marriage tune-up to keep your relationship on the right track? Or maybe things are going “okay” but you want it to be more than okay. To celebrate Father’s Day, Marriage Helper is offering a free Marriage Tune-Up course. Sign up for our 3 part mini-course. It’s free!
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Some days you find yourself fighting over the same thing that you have been trying to solve for the past three years and on some days even the biggest issue is solved in a day with just a basic discussion.
We just have to learn to let go of fights and ensure that our egos and self-respect remain intact.
If you’re just tired of all these arguments and don’t know how to end the most recent one with your spouse/boyfriend/fiancé, we are here to help. You can copy-paste these lines into a text message and send it to them, or just repeat these lines to them.
Image Credit: Giphy
What to say after an argument with your Partner
Here is the list of some best things to say your partner over text to end the fight.
1. I agree with what you said but I needed to say my side too
This works best with men. They feel they weren’t heard in the fight and just letting them know that you agree with them is enough to help settle things.
2. First things first, I love you. And second, I hate fighting with you.
Anybody who fights with you after you tell them that you hate arguing with them is not worthy of you.
Image Credit: Giphy
3. It is a pattern, we just keep throwing things into the argument. I want to stop doing that with you.
This will make him feel that both of you brought a lot of different things into the fight which wasn’t what you started with and it will give him perspective. To top that, you tell him that you want to create a healthier pattern with him which will make him feel secure and loved.
4. I shouldn’t have lost my temper last night. I can sit down and do this with you now if you want.
This will make your partner keep his temper in check too. Period.
Image Credit: WiffleGif
5. That fight was silly and if you really think about it, quite unnecessary as well. Let’s get over it?
The only answer you will get is, ‘Sure, babe.’
6. If I had a guide for what to say to my boyfriend after an argument, I would choose the best line from it. But I only have a sorry for now. So . sorry?
This is sure to melt a man’s heart.
Image Credit: Tenor
7. I shouldn’t have taken things this far and I would like to begin this discussion with an apology. Now we can healthily argue again if you want.
This is either just to end the argument or take it towards a lighter, less aggressive route.
8. It was all a build-up. My work was shitty, my family was being difficult and I shouldn’t have used you as my punching bag.
If he loves you, he will understand that life can get a little hard at times and you end up venting your anger where you are not meant to.
Image Credit: Giphy
9. Last night scared me. My parents never argued and it was all so new for me and I didn’t know how to process it. Can we please work through it?
Nobody wants to know that their argument style scared the other person. So he will surely take a step back and think about it once.
10. My friends told me that arguments are natural in relationships, all good days will bore us out. But I told them I’ll only agree if you said it.
Being cute doesn’t always work. But if you know your fighting pattern then throw this in at a time when you think he will take it well and not add fuel to the fire.