Instant Fight Stoppers
8. Phone it in
Many men respond better to a voice over the telephone than to a steaming
woman in front of them, says Carle. She once settled a long argument with her
husband simply by calling him on the second line — the two were in the same
house but in separate rooms — and hashed it out over the phone. You can do the
same thing with a cell phone; neither of you sees any rolling eyes or other
physical signals that can add fuel to the fire.
9. Take turns having fun
When Denise Mussman, 35, of St. Louis, headed out to a Cardinals game with
her husband and her 3-year-old daughter, she says "My husband was crabby,
he didn't want to go, and my first impulse was to say, 'Why did you agree to
come?'" When Mussman realized that her husband was going to the game to
please her, she backed off. "I told him that afterward we would do whatever
he wanted to do. He was like a little kid — his mood changed immediately. We
had a good time at the game, then came home and had a barbecue."
10. Use the code
Peggy Elder, 46, of Brooklyn says she and her husband constantly bickered
after a stressful move across the country. "We moved because of my job, so
every time he complained I'd feel guilty and say something snappish. Finally we
decided that any time one of us wanted to complain we'd say, 'This isn't a
complaint, just an observation.' It was code for 'You don't need to respond to
this; it's not personal — just listen.'"
11. Mind your manners
We sometimes treat the people closest to us with less respect than we do the
cashier at the supermarket. Check the biting sarcasm at the door, listen with
respect to what your mate has to say and don't interrupt when he's talking:
You'll be amazed at how many would-be fights simply fizzle out.
12. Pull out the Palm Pilot
Busy couples often feel as if they have no time to hash things out during
the week — and that pressure can make fights escalate quickly. Scheduling time
to talk — say, on Saturday mornings while the kids are still asleep or glued to
cartoons — about potentially heated issues can fend off stressful
confrontations during the week. (You don't have to be formal about it; just
say, "Sounds like a Saturday discussion" and drop it for the moment.)
My husband and I use long car rides (with the kids snoozing in the back) for
this purpose. If you aren't the type who plans every minute of your week, at
least ask, "Is this a good time to talk?" before launching into a
discussion, suggests author Weiner-Davis.