10 tips for resolving couple arguments

Un couple qui se serre dans les bras

All couples argue. Those who say they don’t are likely not telling the whole story. The truth is that there are plenty of things that couples may never agree on because of a clash of personalities, values and opinions.

So, how can couples engage in a healthy conversation that will yield a mutually beneficial resolution to their argument?

Relationship experts agree that maintaining a happy relationship in the aftermath of a big fight is possible.

1. The right time

Are you already angry about something else? Are you afraid of saying something you’ll regret? Are the wounds still fresh? Then, this is not the time to start a discussion with your partner.

Calm down and take deep breaths. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Raising your voice or shouting is never the best way to be heard or to get someone to listen.

How you communicate is essential. Plus, there’s a time and a place for everything. That being said, don’t put off the conversation for too long or avoid the argument altogether because that could result in the same situation arising again.

Taking a step back gives you time to decide on the best approach to use. Who knows, you might even come up with a solution!

2. Talking is good. Listening is better.

To understand each other, you have to listen to each other. Make yourself available to your partner and don’t interrupt. According to the law of reciprocity, listening to the other person means they are more likely to listen to you.

You must allow the other to say what they have to say, explain themselves and flesh out their ideas. Focus on what the other person is saying, rather than your rebuttal. You don’t want to seem on the defensive.

Engaging in a two-way conversation means:

  • listening attentively.
  • considering the other's point of view.
  • giving each other space.
  • resisting the need to be right.

These are the basics of good communication.

3. Talk about your feelings, needs and limits

The best way to initiate a conversation and resolve an argument is to say how you’re feeling rather than criticize your partner.

Grabbing your partner's attention should encourage them to listen and empathize.

An example

“I hate it when you don’t tell me when you’ll get home. It makes me worried and anxious."

Communicating this way will help your partner understand and comfort you, rather than feel attacked or forced to justify themselves.

So, instead of criticizing, tell the other person how they make you feel. By the way, using "you" is accusatory and can be perceived as a personal attack that will make your partner go on the defensive. This is when conversations turn into fights.

Are you afraid the problem will happen again? Try suggesting a solution. "Next time, I'll be less worried if you let me know you'll be late." Follow that with an open-ended question (e.g. What do you think?).

Deux femmes discutent ensemble

4. Behind closed doors

Ideally, you’ll want to go to talk in a place that is quiet and free from distractions, not to mention away from prying eyes. Involving family and friends in your discussion is not necessarily a good idea. Keep your dirty laundry to yourself.

No one wants to be forced to take sides in a couple’s argument anyway. It’s uncomfortable for them as well as frustrating for you or your partner. In short, as adults, you should both be capable of resolving an argument.

Important! Resolving an argument in private doesn't mean doing it by text message or email. These communication tools lack a very important thing, nonverbal communication, which is very important when it comes to understanding each other.

5. Avoid attacks and exaggerations

"You contradict everything you say!"
"You have no judgement!"
"You don't get it!"
"You're just like your mother!"

Saying things like that is not constructive at all and will only put an end to the conversation. Accusations, insults or childish antics have no place in a healthy conversation.

Your partner’s not perfect. Pointing out people’s faults, exaggerating the facts and taking advantage of their vulnerabilities all contribute to creating a toxic climate.

Incessant attacks and criticism will only make the other person forget all the intelligent things you said before.

What you want is respectful, two-way communication.

6. Focus on each other’s qualities

No boxing gloves needed here! The golden rule of conflict resolution is respect. Respect the other person's needs, wants and feelings, while respecting yourself too. Don't make a compromise you don’t agree with simply to make peace.

Your conversations should also be replete with patience, tolerance, compassion, kindness, honesty and calm—your allies when it comes to moving forward.

7. Live in the now!

As the saying goes: what’s done is done! This also applies to fights between couples.

Avoid letting a trivial problem from the past become the cornerstone of your arguments. Concentrate instead on the present and on the situation at hand.

What's the point of dwelling on past events anyway? Accumulating them only makes subsequent arguments harder to resolve.

8. Admit when you’re wrong

“I like criticism and blame,” said no one ever. But we all have to be open to hearing them. Better still, we have to accept them.

All it takes is a little introspection and self-awareness. Nobody’s perfect. A couple is two people with different personalities, each with their faults and qualities. If you can't agree, then you should at least agree to disagree.

And when you’re wrong, admitting it means taking responsibility for your words and actions. Acknowledging what you did will open the door to understanding and a solution.

9. Reach a consensus

If after plenty of discussion, the argument persists, then it’s time to reach a compromise. Common ground may seem like a good idea, but consensus is far better.

Think outside the box. Use your creativity to find a solution that will work for both of you in the long run. There are no right or wrong answers, only solutions that work for the relationship.

An argument is not a battle to be won. It's a problem to be solved. And a solution cannot be applied at your or the other’s expense. It must satisfy both parties. Otherwise, the conflict is doomed to arise again in the future.

Un couple en consultation

10. Ask for help

When you have trouble resolving arguments, consider seeking professional help from a marriage counsellor, psychologist or sexologist. They’ll help you find a solution to your situation.

Does your group insurance plan include an employee assistance program? If so, it may cover couples therapy.

So happy together

All couples argue (unfortunately!) and arguing is inevitable. However, it’s not all bad news. Arguments can be good for your relationship too. They allow you to ask important questions, talk about sensitive subjects and express your emotions. In the long run, they can improve unpleasant situations and your relationship in general. They allow you to get to know and understand each other better, so you can be happy together every day.