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How to Stop Fighting With Your Wife and Keep Peace at Home

No relationship is devoid of conflict and fights. So, it’s no wonder that the golden question always begins with the phrase “How to stop fighting with your wife?” Talk to anyone who’s ever been in a relationship – whether it’s a long or short term one, whether they’ve been happily married for a year or 40 years – couples still fight.  That’s nothing to worry about though. In fact, a survey (involving almost 1000 couples) drawn from the “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” book gives interesting data.  The survey in the book, written by four experts in corporate training and organizational performance,  claims how “couples who argue effectively are 10 times more likely to have a happy relationship”, as opposed to couples who don’t use fights to (constructively) resolve pent up issues and resentments.  The problem arises, however, when the fights become very frequent, and when they start to probe into (almost) every segment of your daily marital/partnership life.  Having frequent fights and bickering can become an excuse for sweeping accumulated problems under the rug, which can corrode your relationship. In other words – when fights start to become a threat to your relationship, and they stop being its healthy air shaft, well, then it’s time to learn how to stop fighting with your spouse. 

What can you expect from this article? 

In this article, I’ll go over the most effective ways you can be a better crisis manager in your marriage/relationship and stop fighting with your wife or spouse.  And when I mean “stop fighting with your wife”, I mean to stop fighting in ineffective and corrosive ways, rather than stop fighting altogether.  As I mentioned earlier, there are good and bad ways to fight in a relationship, and it’s worth going over both of them to see what you should and shouldn’t do once you find yourself in marital conflict.  First on the list are examples of bad fighting and how to control yourself in such situations.  So next I‘ll talk about how to avoid fighting with your wife. Afterward, I want to talk about how you can have more productive and constructive fights.  

How to Avoid Fighting 

The beginning of a conflict is very important. When you notice the arguments are starting to become conflicts and these conflicts start to escalate – well, then you’ll often find yourself on the “event horizon”, aka just at the edge of the point of no return. This is also the time to turn on the alarm bells and try controlling yourself in the following ways.

Don’t Let Anger Turn Into Rage  

It’s okay to be angry at your partner for something. It can be the same old dirty dishes problem or leaving the wet towel on the bed. Or, it can be something more serious, like them hurting your feelings by neglecting you, refusing to share things with you, or refusing your company.  But, as long as your feelings are being hurt or your needs are being neglected, you deserve to voice it and share your concerns.  When we don’t get enough attention from our partners and when we feel like we’re not being listened to or have our demands respected, we get angry, and sometimes even get enraged.  But there’s a big difference between the two – being angry still allows you to articulate your feelings and show your partner that what they’re doing is troubling you deeply, more than they might’ve thought it will. They can see this by the emotional intensity in your reactions, while you’re still able to say what you think they’re doing wrong. But in rage, there’s nothing constructive. If the only thing it makes you do is smash dishes against the wall, and/or offend your partner for not respecting you by cursing and name-calling, then there’s not much to gain from that. Other than the broken pieces on the floor and an even bigger emotional gap in the relationship. 

What you can do instead 

So, the next time you’re on the threshold between angry and enraged, try identifying the feeling – if you get the urge to throw something against the wall and across the room, don’t do it.  Instead, tell your partner that you’re really angry right now and do something else with yourself that’ll help you defuse the tension and vent your pent up negative energy.  You can try a short exercise, go jogging for 15-20 minutes, for example; or just take a really fast, angry walk through the neighborhood, and then come back with a clear(er) head. 

Turn Your Feelings Into Words 

Words help us rationalize our emotional (inner) states and they also help us control them. That’s why talking about your feelings before you get really angry is a good idea.  It will help you and your partner deal with the conflict situation in real-time. When you say “I’m mad/angry at you for ___”, instead of yelling or cursing, you’re controlling your anger by not letting it escalate to rage.  Words allow you to distance yourself from the affective (emotional) situation and look at it from a more neutral perspective.  And they also allow your partner to find out exactly how you feel, rather than having to guess what lies beneath the surface of your angry emotions or nonspecific reactions.

Try Talking in a Normal/Lower Tone

It’s understandable that as the conversations become more intense, you’ll start to raise your voice.  But often a high tone of voice will only add fuel to the fire rather than extinguish it.  So next time you find yourself raising your voice, try to do the opposite, and express your negative emotions through a normal tone of voice. Just like you usually communicate on an everyday basis.  This often prevents us from blowing arguments out of proportion and it shortens the duration of the fight. 

Rules for Good Fighting 

Yes, there is such a thing as good fighting.  Eventually, conflict in relationships can’t be avoided, and that’s ok. Even if you’re lucky enough to find your soulmate, chances are you’re still gonna end up fighting at some point. This is because we have distinct personalities, no matter how similar we think we are.  This means that the way we process our partner’s behavior differs from person to person, as do our emotional responses.  Fights can be a catalyst for change and resolving issues in a relationship – if you do them right, that is. Fights can offer couples space (a tad rowdier, though) to learn about their partners and learn to work better as a team.  That’s why I want to talk about more productive fights in this part, and show how you can emerge stronger after a fight rather than the other way around.  Let’s look at some of the strategies and ways you can make the fights with your spouse more constructive and ease the tension when they’re starting to become more explosive. 

Pay Attention to the Beginnings of Your Arguments

I mentioned this earlier when I talked about controlling anger and rage during fights with your spouse.  Beginnings are important because they allow you to control the course of the whole argument and usually are the key point where things begin to escalate.  Paying attention to the beginnings will help you stick to the point, rather than topping one reason to be angry at each other over another.  So, next time you notice this is happening, try steering the “conversation” towards its initial course and try dealing with that first

Don’t Hoard Old Resentments and Use Them as Weapons 

Hoarding resentments is a bad practice all on its own, but using them as a reservoir for future or current (ongoing) fights is even worse.  Instead of dealing with each issue separately and in due time, you’re bringing an unresolved issue on top of the one you’re having right now. No wonder it’s all going to get out of hand!  Instead, try dealing with the most pertinent issue first, and then, when you’ve managed to come to an agreement, bring resentments from the past at a more neutral time when both of you are NOT angry and aggravated already. 

Don’t Turn Every Fight Into a Threat to Your Relationship 

If you threaten to leave your relationship every time you have an argument with your partner, then it might be considered as a type of emotional blackmail.  Furthermore, threatening to leave after fighting shows a serious lack of communication skills. It also points to a lack of commitment towards your partner and the attempt towards maintaining a sense of security in your relationship.  Partners who have a healthy way of arguing never threaten to leave after each argument. If your partner does this, confront them with it. Try making them work on this potentially controlling and manipulative tactic by asking them: Why do they always feel the need to leave after a fight? 
  • Is it that unbearable? 
  • Has it become downright impossible for them to argue without the thought of breaking up your relationship? 
In one word: try to find out the reasons behind this tactic. 

Don’t Shy Away from Apologizing to Your Partner

This, of course, goes for situations where you’re the one who’s hurt your partner or maybe overreacted.  That’s ok, it happens to the best of us. But learning how to apologize can be crucial to the way you fight. And to your future fights as well, because both of you will know that (almost) whatever happens, you’ll be able to mend it.  So, depending on your partner, there’ll be different ways to apologize. Some partners are ok with only a couple of words such as “I’m really sorry I (re)acted that way…”, or “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings”.  But some might need a longer type of apology in the form of a conversation on the reasons why it happened in the first place. This is an opportunity for growth for both of you, so don’t shy away from it, even if you think it’s a minor issue. 

Bickering as a Stress Reliever? 

Sure, there are some couples who use bickering as a stress reliever, but other times bickering can be the result of underlying frustration.  Esther Perel calls bickering “low-intensity chronic warfare,” which tells you a lot about therapists’ opinion on the matter.  Bickering can be really harmful when one (or the two) of you is reeling old resentments in the back of their minds. It can pretty much serve to undermine your relationship and make both of you feel self-conscious, unloved, inadequate, and frustrated.  Start by identifying your type of bickering. If both of you notice you don’t feel any long-term consequences from it, then I guess it’s ok to continue doing so, if it’s a way to relieve stress and marital tension.  But if it makes you feel lousy, address it! Address it and try focusing on your partner’s good sides. But don’t forget to allow yourself to be vulnerable and articulate your unmet needs by also reflecting on what you feel and why you think you feel it. 

What to Do After a Fight 

As I’m continually repeating throughout this article, fighting can be constructive when it isn’t toxic.  Above, you can see some of the ways fighting can become toxic and how to avoid fighting in the first place.  But, what I like to call “fighting aftercare” is just as important as the constructive (or sometimes less than constructive) fighting because it helps you gain insight into your arguments and makes you approach them with a clearer head.  That being said, there are things you can do by yourself and things you can do with your partner as a form of “fighting aftercare”. Let’s look at some of the ways you can do both! 

Things You Can Do Alone 

1. Calm Down

Calming yourself down after a fight with your spouse is essential for your fighting aftercare routine.  Even if you think you’ve reached an agreement with your partner on an issue, your body might need a bit more time to reach a more balanced and calmer state.  So, before, during, and after a fight with your spouse, it’s important to pay attention to your body and your nervous system and try to calm down. And the tactics for this are more or less simple: just find out what works for you best and do it!  This goes for any other type of fight you might have – with coworkers, with family members, with random people on the street… We all need to develop methods of defusing and we all have different ones, so finding what works for you best can be a game-changer in morel areas in your life than just the marital one.  Exercise is definitely one of the best ways to blow off steam – whether it’s biking, jogging, hiking, swimming, cross-fit… or just a simple walk around the neighborhood can also do the trick.  Meditation is another method that can calm you down and put things into perspective if that’s more of your cup of tea. Hobbies or other types of artistic, skill-requiring activities might help as well. Try carpentry, make drawings or doodles, read a nice short story or a chapter of a really good novel, go dancing…  In any case, the first and easiest thing you can do is take deep, slower breaths for a minute or half a minute – breathe in through your nose and breath out from your mouth. You’ll see immediate results, trust me! 

2. Reflect but Don’t Ruminate

In psychological terms, there’s a difference between reflection and rumination. Reflection is a healthy way to assess a situation in detail, whereas rumination is where you obsess yourself and overthink your arguments without coming to a conclusion in the end.   Reflecting allows you to come to a better understanding of the situation. By reflecting, you’re allowing yourself to see and think about your feelings and reactions from a distance. You’ll also become able to acknowledge both the negative and positive emotions that will come out of it. By being aware of whether you’re angry or sad, disappointed or relieved, you’ll be better equipped to handle future arguments. 

3. Journal Potential Fight Triggers 

Writing about the causes of your arguments (and what comes out of them) can be as helpful as mentally reflecting about them (even more so, in fact).  This is because putting things into writing also helps you articulate your feelings and thoughts better, in a clearer and more outlined manner.  So, next time you and your partner have an argument, as part of your fighting aftercare routine, sit down at your bureau and write.  Write about the potential triggers that sparked the argument and that might’ve been the ones that upset your spouse, and own up to them. It will allow you to have a calm and productive conversation afterward, where you can both reach an agreement and bury the hatchets.  Source: Unsplash, photo by Joshua Ness  

Things You Can Do With Your Partner 

1.Take (and give) some time getting ready to talk again

It’s normal to need some time to vent (separately) after a fight and to avoid talking for a while. Sometimes you’ll both need this time, and sometimes one of you will need it more than the other.  In any event, if you’re not sure that your partner is ready to talk, you can just kindly ask them: “Do you feel ready to talk now or do you maybe need a bit more time?” or something of that sort.  Different personalities (and different types of fights) will require different amounts of time to cool-off, so the important thing here is not to pressure your partner into talking when they’re still not ready.  The same goes for you as well.  A word of advice here: if you’re the one that says you need some time to vent, try to also be the one that approaches your partner first when you’re ready to talk.  That way you won’t keep them guessing and stressing about your emotional states, and you’ll show a sign of goodwill for the arguments to be resolved. 

2. Use “I-statements”

The “I-statements” are a great way to avoid the blame game and take responsibility for your actions and your feelings.  “I feel that…”, “I feel [a particular way]”, “I think…” are a good way to start expressing your dissatisfaction, concern, or even voice an apology towards your partner. It also helps your partner understand how you’re feeling in greater detail. 

3. Practice the Art of Listening

Listening is one of the most important elements of good communication.  People who fight often forget to listen to their partners.  They also forget how listening helps you end the fight sooner and in a more reasonable manner because you actually pay attention to what your partner says and to how they’re feeling.  Don’t try to fix anything right away or cut them in mid-sentence. 

4. Try to be more lighthearted when you can

Humor can be a shortcut to defusing tension after a fight. If you can find a moment in your arguments or after them and put in a light joke or include a warm comment, it could mean a world of difference.  You might be mad at your partner for a couple of hours but still find them attractive, right?  So why not tell them this! You can say something like “I’m really annoyed/angry/pissed off/irritated [the list goes on] by you right now, but man do you look hot!” Giving a friendly or warm comment after a fight doesn’t mean that you’re giving in when you’re angry and you think you’re right.  It’s just another way to distance yourself from the heat of the moment and see that sometimes the fights seem a bit ridiculous from further away.  

Marriage/Relationship counseling app

In any event, it’s a good idea to experiment with ways to defuse tension and see what works for you individually as a couple. I’d also recommend you try out the marriage counseling app Lasting. This app helps you work through your bottled up feelings and thoughts and enables you to more easily communicate them to your partner.  It also helps you pull through and constructively deal with marital disagreements. In it, you can find conversation starters and relationship reminders; you can have single sessions or work together with your partner.  You’ll also be able to choose between guided counseling programs working in several areas of your relationship among which are the foundations of your relationship, communication and emotional communication, conflict, etc.  I suggest you give it a go, even if you’re not really a technology buff (you do have to own a smartphone, though)!

Real-Life Examples and Accounts of What Couples Do to Avoid Fighting

And so dear readers, instead of a typical “Final Thoughts” sign-off, I’d like to end this article a bit differently. I’d like to thank you for your readerly patience with examples from real-life online couples who share how they manage their marital disputes in a healthy way.   Reddit is a great place for people who want to share their everyday, real-life stories. I think there’s a lot to learn with examples such as these.  They tell us and show us that we’re all quirky humans and that we deal with problems in different ways. They show us that there are plenty of ways, in fact, to deal with everyday marriage problems.  So let’s see them: What is a guaranteed way to STOP a fight with your SO [significant other]?

1.Some have a set scenario in place

“This will sound ridiculously cheesy, but we play the ‘I love that…’ game. Basically, we take it in turns to name something we love that the other person does, until we’ve both calmed down enough to talk rationally instead of argue. The best thing about this is it starts spontaneously, i.e. when an argument gets heated and there’s a pause, one of us will start the game – kind of like an olive branch. And when you start thinking about reasons you love the other person, you naturally start wanting to offer solutions and be on the same side, rather than ‘win’ the argument. So it might go something like: [pause after escalated argument] Him: I love that you make pancakes for me on Sunday mornings. (said begrudgingly, still angry with me) Me: (rolls eyes) I love that when I come home from work you don’t try and talk to me straight away because you know I need my space. Him: I love that you know how to change a tire. Me: I love that when you make me tea and a pop tart, you wait five minutes before making the pop tart so that my tea’s had time to cool down and I can have them together. [a few more of these] [we end up smiling] [rational discussion and conclusion of what we were talking about] [we bang]

2. Some resort to short breaks and backpedaling 

“Back pedal and calmly point out that the conversation is getting heated. Suggest a short break for a breather, or admit your part in the escalation. It becomes easier for the other party to admit their fault when it doesn’t feel like it makes them weak to do so. Keeping calm is not always easy – but the first person to regress to name-calling, yelling, etc has already lost the argument.”

3. Some use the tactic of “safe words”

“We use our safe word in arguments too. If someone says the safe word then all conversation stops and we go to neutral corners until we can proceed again later. It works really well.”

4. Some give each other space and time to vent/calm down

“For us – space/time My wife has quite the temper and the worse thing you could do is engage this while she’s being passionate. So I ask her politely but firmly to give me some space until “we” cool down, of course, this is really for her benefit as I am rarely passionate about whatever she wants to fight/argue about. The best part about my wife is she is passionate with everything, her cooking, her music, art, and of course her love.”

5. Some buffer the intensity of fights through texting-arguments

“We try to argue over IM. It makes our arguments more productive. We are less likely to blurt out something mean and something we truly don’t mean. When typing you can re-read what you write almost from a third-party point of view. It makes us more honest and less hurtful. I tend to get really hot-headed and emotional so this has helped me a lot to not say hurtful things that I truly don’t believe.” “I do this. Any time I have something I want to discuss/voice to my boyfriend, even if he’s only in the living room or kitchen, I text it. “Hey, you upset me today when you did ______.” And we’ll text it out. He’s a very non-confrontational person, and I’m the polar opposite. It helps because I can calmly tell him what upset me as opposed to yelling it like I would probably do out loud.”

6. Some invoke the “five-year rule”

“We used to invoke the “five-year rule” — if the situation wouldn’t matter in five years, we’d agree on a compromise without delay and without problems. if it would matter in five years, then the situation warranted serious discussion without emotion or holding on to a position just to make a point. Worked for us…no major fights or arguments in 18 years, until he died. dammit.” As you can see, each couple has their own way of dealing with relationship conflicts, but there are certain patterns that emerge. Taking breaks, backpedaling, pointing out the stuff that you love about your partner, looking at the argument’s weight from a certain perspective in time… There are ways to deal with the negative emotions when your partner gets on your nerves, without making it a big one. Always consider these ways first, my friends.  Cheers! 

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