Tips for Reducing Relationship Fights
Marriage is a commitment. It’s one filled with joy but also challenges. If you are always fighting then it can place wear and tear on your relationship.
Disagreements are a normal part of any relationship, and will certainly happen when you are living with a significant other. Add kids, finances, and the stress of daily life to the mix and you’re sure to hit a few bumps in the road!
But sometimes fighting seems to take hold of the relationship like a weed you simply can’t exterminate.
It doesn’t mean your relationship is failing or doomed to.
On the contrary, excessive fighting is an opportunity to come together as a couple and make positive changes to the relationship.
If you and your partner always fight but still love each other and are fully committed to finding a solution, then this guide is for you.
External factors can play a huge role in relationship dynamics. Take a look at your current stress level. If you or your partner has been dealing with a lot at work, something is breaking in your house every time you turn around, or finances are tight, stress could be a major reason behind fights.
Personal stress can spill over to negatively impact marital functioning. If one or both partners is under a lot of stress, it’s sure to lead to bickering and unnecessary fighting.
Start by addressing the stress. Pin down the primary causes of stress, and work together to find ways to alleviate them. For example, if money has been a huge stressor, create a budget, find areas to cut back in, etc.
Some stress is out of our control. Regardless of the cause, find ways to alleviate stress. Exercise is a great way to relax and boost natural endorphins, but meditating, arts/crafts, spending time in nature, and many other activities can also help.
Spend Quality Time Together
You may live with your partner, but how much quality time do you spend together? For dual-income couples with children, quality time can be very hard to come by. Even without kids, life gets very busy and people can get into routines that don’t prioritize quality time with their significant other.
While the exact amount of time each couple needs varies, carving out quality time is important for staying connected. Shared activities increase collaboration and communication, and they help each person feel loved. In turn, this can help reduce fighting that spews from a place of feeling neglected or alienated in the relationship.
Focus on spending quality time together regularly, and make it clear what quality time means for you. This time is not only about being in the same room but working on different things. It’s a focused time together.
Get Enough “Me” Time
While having enough dedicated couple time is critical, so is having enough alone time. If you feel like the relationship and household responsibilities prevent you from engaging in your hobbies, then resentment can build. Furthermore, being in close quarters with someone for so long can amplify minor annoyances, leading to full-blown arguments about seemingly small things.
Make time for your friends, families, and hobbies outside of your relationship. Ensure your partner can do the same. Coordinate your schedules to ensure a balance of quality time together, family time, and individual time.
Examples of ways to get “me” time in a relationship include:
- Recreational sports team
- Individual or group workouts
- Shopping with a friend or family member
Have More Effective Discussions
No matter how much you improve your relationship, arguments happen. Fighting is part of a healthy relationship, but unhealthy fighting becomes cyclical.
Finding a healthier way to discuss disagreements will help them become more beneficial and help reduce the hurt they cause. It can also prevent future arguments about the same topics.
Cool Off First
Before jumping into an argument, take a minute to cool off. Arguing while heated won’t help you resolve the issue.
Practice some deep breathing to bring your heart rate down and calm your mind. Focus on calming down and approaching the situation with an open mind.
One Topic at a Time
Instead of bringing up 3 things your partner did last week that upset you as well as something you hated last year and the thing that just happened, pick one topic at a time.
Focus on one topic so that you can work together and find a solution. Bringing up the past and a bunch of topics at once only heightens the negative emotions. It doesn’t allow your partner to fully understand any of the topics, and will prevent you both from resolving anything.
Keep the discussion on one primary topic. If the topic is that you haven’t gotten any help with the dishes for the past five nights, then stick to that.
One of the biggest argument errors that couples make is accusing. Throwing out a ton of “you” statements and throwing the blame on your partner will put them on the defense.
Be mindful of your language. Use “I” statements when possible, and avoid extreme language like “always” and “never.” Focus on how you feel about a situation, and provide solutions for what you’d like to see.
Another common issue is talking over each other, or listening to respond rather than to understand. Just as you want your partner to hear your side and understand where you’re coming from, they want the same.
Take turns talking, and wait a moment between responding. This forces you to listen and process the information, not just plan a response to spit out immediately.
If need be, use a “talking stick” or object. The person who has the object speaks. The other must listen. The speaker can then wait a few seconds after they are done to give the object to the other person.
Seek Out Couples Counseling
While fighting is part of a healthy relationship, you should not always argue. The tips above can help you identify major argument triggers and help make your discussions more productive.
However, mending a relationship filled with constant fighting takes a lot of time and effort. Both parties must be fully committed to the process.
Sometimes, it can help to have a neutral third-party provide insight. For couples who always fight, couple’s therapy is one of the best ways to improve the relationship and reduce fights. A licensed counselor can assess the relationship and provide tailored solutions for reducing fights and improving communication skills.
Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing:
Lisa Rabinowitz, LCPC is a licensed counselor in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Vermont and Florida. She also works with international couples and expats. With her support, you can learn how to reduce stress and conflict in your relationship through an intensive marriage retreat or couples counseling. Reach out to Lisa for a 20-minute free private consultation today.