Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves and our relationship is to give it time and space. Taking a break from the intensity of the interaction, even a few minutes can open you up to seeing or hearing your partner differently. Sometimes a brief respite will allow both partners to let down your defenses long enough to see your own part of the argument. Owning up to where you went wrong in an argument is a remarkably powerful de-fuser and will often be met by the other person’s ability to see their own responsibility. Once you start talking about the issue, don’t derail your progress by adding “but…” to the end of the phrase. Remind yourself that having the upper hand is not worth the cost of putting down the person you love.
Although it might seem counter-intuitive and difficult for many people to get there, physical intimacy can be a great way to feed the part of the relationship that words can’t get near. I have often found that after I share a strong intimate connection with my husband, the issue that we were really needing to resolve surfaces.
Many times the thing we are fighting for and about cuts to the heart of whether we feel loved and appreciated, but comes cloaked in all kinds of crazy getups. When all else fails, a good joke to break the tension–finding laughter together–is a reliable pressure valve that is often underused. Humor can provide distance and perspective too. Getting a glimpse of whether the issue is worth it and comparing it to the value of your relationship is the turning point for many people’s arguments. If you really value your relationship, you want to fight fair and set boundaries around how you disagree because without it, what ends up most injured is the relationship you are trying to grow.