At 29 years old, I’ve been in three serious relationships. And like most couples, I’ve experienced my fair share of arguments from shouting matches to silent treatments that could last for centuries. And even though most experts agree that engaging in occasional arguments with your partner can be a good thing, constantly fighting can take a toll not only on your relationship, but also on your personal life and overall health.
But don’t fret. If you and your partner are always at each other’s throats, it doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is destined to end. While you shouldn’t ignore red flags that could indicate a sign of incompatibility, there’s a chance that you and your partner are simply going through a bit of a rough patch, and that’s okay. If this is the case, there are a few things you can do to make your relationship healthier and happier, according to relationship experts.
Tips for how to stop fighting with your partner.
1Get to the root of why you’re fighting.
Are you truly mad at your partner for never doing the dishes? Or, are you upset that they don’t appreciate your efforts? Most arguments are not about the situation at hand, and instead, involve a lot more subtext than we realize. However, there’s also the strong possibility that the constant fighting has nothing to do with the actual relationship and everything to do with what’s happening in your personal life (e.g. feeling stressed with work or healing from previous past traumas).
In any case, it’s important to dig a little deeper. According to Kaitlin Kindman, licensed clinical social worker and co-founder of Kindman and Co, constantly fighting with your partner often illustrates a deeper trust or security issue.
Take some time to figure out why you’re constantly fighting. This can grant you the space to find the true root of the problem, which can eventually address and decrease the chances of repetitive arguments from occurring between you and your partner.
2 Attempt to see things from your partner’s perspective.
Remember: Your S.O. is their own person with their own past, expectations, and emotions. And it’s unfair for you to expect them to instantly align with your mindset, especially if you’re not being honest about your thoughts and feelings. Try to empathize with your partner and take note of their current situation the next time the two of you are fighting. Are they constantly stressed at work? Are you aware that you may be accidentally hitting one of their emotional triggers? Sometimes you just need to put yourself in their shoes to figure out why these fights are occurring in the first place.
Kindman also believes it’s worth learning about what makes your partner feel loved, supported, confident, attractive, and safe since we all feel and express love in different ways—aka our love languages. Once you take the time to understand how your partner operates, you can add this information to your relationship tool kit, which will help you be more prepared to navigate future arguments.
3Watch out for rumination.
Do you ever have those moments where you’re obsessively thinking about a situation to the point where you can’t focus on anything else? This is called rumination. When it comes to our relationships, we can subconsciously hyper-focus on a situation when our partner said or did something that upset us. In some cases, we may even be tempted to build a bigger case against our S.O. rather than understand or forgive them. However, obsessing over what we believe our partner did wrong will ultimately drive us further away from them. Try not to wallow too much in misery, and instead, view your partner as a teammate rather than an enemy.
4Set boundaries for heated discussions.
I can tell you from experience that fighting when you’re exhausted, drunk, or in a funk is a bad idea. Telling your partner that you didn’t like how their mom spoke to you at the last family dinner after a mimosa brunch or starting a serious conversation when you’re both getting ready for bed will only send one of you to the couch at the end of the argument. So when is the right time to discuss tough conversations?
If things are getting heated, don’t be afraid to take a break and return to the conversation when both of you are feeling a little more level-headed. “Recognize what happens in your own body when you shut down, get defensive, or aggressive. When this is happening, it will be very hard to truly resolve a fight,” Kindman adds.
5Notice any destructive behavior.
Sorry to say this, but noticing your contributions to these arguments can prevent you from falling into them in the first place. Yes, that means dropping the ego for a bit, because it takes two people to argue. Common patterns in arguments include stonewalling (giving evasive replies to avoid answers), criticizing, gaslighting (making your partner question their reality), or being defensive (refusing to see things from your partner’s perspective).
Dr. Samantha Rader, Board of Psychology-certified licensed clinical psychologist, says that the most destructive behavior occurs when fighting becomes the need for someone to be right and someone to be wrong. “Both people always play a part,” she says. “No one can begin to grow from a place of being ‘wrong.’”
While it can feel easier to resort to negative behavior patterns, attempt to be self-aware during your arguments—if you notice yourself moving into destructive territory, it might be time to take a breather.
6Try to picture your life without them.
Remember: You love this person. You don’t want to see them in any sort of emotional distress, and chances are, you’d feel pretty sad if they were to suddenly up and vanish. When we picture our lives without our partners, we’re really cultivating a sense of gratitude. What are some of the things they do that make you smile? Even if they aren’t so great at doing the dishes, do they give great massages or comfort you when you’re fighting with a family member?
Remembering all of the many things that you love about your partner and imagining your life without them is a good way to foster a sense of appreciation, which can help temper any negative feelings you may be feeling.
6Be prepared to compromise.
If you’re glued to the idea of winning the argument, you’re going to find that there’s little room for growth or productivity. According to Dr. Rader, the best way out is for both partners to ask themselves, “What can I do differently that would contribute to peace in my relationship?”
7Talk to a professional.
Individual therapy is seeing a huge decrease in stigma, and we’re hoping couples’ therapy follows suit, as there’s zero shame in getting help. Talking to an unbiased, third-party professional may help you and your S.O. see things from one another’s perspective, and ultimately, reach a compromise.
If you’re not sure where to get started, Psychology Today has a detailed search database where you can find therapists by location, specialty, accepted insurance, and style of therapy.
8Know if it’s time to say goodbye.
While you may not want to hear this, in some cases, it’s best to end the relationship if none of the above tips are working, or if you can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t right. You may want to take a deeper look at the relationship as a whole and contemplate if you think you can truly be happy with this person in the long run.
In other words, both parties need to be dedicated to quelling the fighting. If you and your partner are both invested in maintaining and strengthening the relationship, there’s no reason why you can’t work your way out of a rough patch—but it does take dedication, empathy, and a hefty dose of compromise. If you’re both all in, there’s little the both of you can’t do.