Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Sex

Font Size

Fight the Good Fight: Turn Spats Into Solutions

By Camille Pagan
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD

Want to dial down the unhealthy drama in your relationship? You can, once you know how to defuse blow-up arguments and unresolved feuds.

“Massive, all-out fights are bad for you. They make your heart race, cause stress, and can trigger issues like migraines,” says psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert. “On the other hand, learning to have good conversations keeps your relationship healthy.”

Recommended Related to Sex & Relationships

21 Ways to Say "I Love You" Without Saying a Word

By Sara AndersonRedbook readers - and their guys! - share how they show their love. You already know it's important for you and your guy to tell each other "I love you" — as often as possible. But you shouldn't depend on those three little words to let your one-and-only know what's in your heart. In fact, nonverbal displays of affection are often a better way to get through to the man in your life. "Guys tend to be action-oriented, so they feel less comfortable using words to express emotions,"...

Read the 21 Ways to Say "I Love You" Without Saying a Word article > >

Here are six ways to ensure your next argument has a good outcome. 

Keep Calm and Carry On

If your blood’s boiling and you can barely remember what started your fight in the first place, call a time out.

“It’s next to impossible to be logical, let alone empathetic, in a heightened state,” Alpert says.

Pick the discussion back up when both of you feel levelheaded.If you can’t keep your voice down, you may not be ready to have the conversation.

Know Your Goal

Before you sit down to talk, Alpert recommends you ask yourself: "What do I want to accomplish here? Do I want to hurt my partner, or work toward a resolution?"

Focus on finding a positive solution from the get-go. That makes it more likely you’ll listen and stay thoughtful.

People who keep their angry feelings contained may be more likely to develop health conditions like high blood pressure.

Keep to Task

Keep your argument brief and on-point.

“Leave the past in the past. Don’t bring up all the prior problems related to the one you’re discussing. Instead, solve one thing at a time,” says psychotherapist Tina Tessina, PhD. “Keep statements to two or three sentences. That way, it doesn’t seem like you’re trying to dominate the conversation, and it will be easier for your partner to grasp what you’re saying.”

Know What You Need

Instead of criticizing your partner’s habits or values, be specific, Tessina says. For example, say, “It would mean a lot to me if you’d stop using your cell phone during dinner,” rather than, “I think you’re addicted to Facebook.”

Also, steer clear of words like "always" and "never." “Over-generalizing is upsetting and is usually also untrue,” Tessina says.

Sleep On It

A lack of sleep makes conflicts harder to resolve, a recent study shows. If you’re frazzled or fried, it’s OK to go to bed mad if you both agree to put talks on hold until the next day, Alpert says.

Pause Between Statements

It takes work to change the way you communicate. Suggestion: Discuss a hot-button issue when you’re not mad.

“Let your partner make a statement about the problem, but take at least 10 minutes to think about what he or she has said before you respond,” says Gerald Goodman, PhD, a psychologist and professor emeritus at UCLA. “Then sum up what your partner said, and make your own statement. Go back and forth a few times. It may take several hours or days, but it will pay off.”

Find it hard to pause between statements? “My research shows that learning to delay your response helps you stay calm and find solutions during major conflicts,” Goodman says.

Between pauses, use the time to listen to your partner, Alpert says. The more you’re on the same page, the easier it is to resolve fights quickly and fairly.

Reviewed on March 04, 2014

Today on WebMD

flowers behind back
Article
Upset woman sitting on bed
Article
 
couple kissing
Article
Exercises for Better Sex
Video
 
Life Cycle of a Penis
Article
HIV Myth Facts
Slideshow
 
How Healthy is Your Sex Life
Quiz
Couple in bed
Video
 
6 Tips For Teens
Article
Close-up of young man
Article
 
screening tests for men
Slideshow
HPV Vaccine Future
Article