How to Fight Fair

The gloves are off, the claws are out, and you and your partner are locked in a heated, intense argument. Can you end the fight before things get ugly, or have you already gone too far?

Cutting off an argument can actually be a relationship lifesaver. Once you've said something — whether you meant it or not — it can't be taken back. Even if your partner does his best to forgive you, resentments can fester, and may even lay the groundwork for future arguments.

It's good to practice physiological soothing techniques when things get heated. When anger starts to rise, so does your body temperature, heart rate, and breathing. You feel angry, which can make your emotions seem more intense than they are. Take a step back when you feel this happening and observe your body's reaction. Breathe deeply for a moment, and try to separate your mental reaction from your physical reaction. Allowing yourself to be controlled by your emotions in this state can cause you to say and do things you may regret later.

To help your partner take it down a notch, inject a little humor or even a tender touch into your argument. Reach for his hand or make a joke — both gestures will help him feel less threatened and calm him down. Also, it can be helpful to have each of you repeat what the other one has just said before you respond to it, to make sure you're getting each other's messages.

Learning to fight constructively is an important part of maintaining a loving and functional relationship. Keep your perspective when things are at their worst, and you and your partner will make it through to happier times.

Brought to you by Dr. Laura Berman (Passion Files) & Slumber Parties by Tonia ;-)

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