Instant Fight Stoppers
2. Ask yourself: Is this really fight-worthy?
If you fly off the handle over every little infraction (dishes in the sink,
giving the kids snacks before dinner), your partner will tune you out on the
big stuff. Terry Lake, 35, of Rochester, PA, decided that eight years of
nagging his wife about her lack of tidiness was enough: "I realized it's
not something we will ever solve, so if I want the bathroom clean I can do it
3. Agree to call a time-out
Sometimes just getting away from each other for a minute or two can stop a
fight. Pat Enderson, 31, of Maple Grove, MN, finds herself bickering with her
husband when she's stressed out or tired. "Either my husband or I will
realize it and call a time-out," she says. "Sometimes that means going
to another room; sometimes it just means being quiet for a while. Usually the
whole thing passes without further comment."
4. Say you're sorry when you're not
"Most of us are convinced we have to show our 'real' feelings all the
time, and that's not true," says Weiner-Davis. "The 'love means never
having to say you're sorry' line is some of the biggest baloney ever. Say
you're sorry even if you're not 100 percent behind it." You'll be amazed at
the impact those words can have on a hostile mate; he's very likely to soften
after hearing them, as Scott Tady, 35, of Beaver, PA, can attest: "Usually
if my wife or I say 'I'm sorry' during a fight, we start kissing and hugging;
the pent-up frustration can eventually lead to some incredible sex."
5. Stop. Think. Write.
Sometimes your argument looks ridiculous once it's on paper. Instead of
blurting out what's making you angry, jot it down on a notepad, or even put it
in an email (you don't have to send it!). Marriage therapist Lisa Stromeier of
Columbus, OH, says this strategy serves another important function: It gives
you time to cool off.
6. Barter with everything!
Cindy Moss, 39, of Cedar Rapids, IA, has no qualms about using sex as a
bargaining tool. "When one of us wants the other to do something he or she
doesn't want to do, we'll avoid fighting by saying something like, "If you
go with me to visit my great-aunt in the nursing home, I'll owe you big,"
meaning a sexual favor. Those words totally defuse arguments because they ease
the tension. Also, it makes us both happier doing what we don't want to when
there's such a fun reward."