“Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.”
~ Nat Turner
Whether it’s a big blow up or a small fight, having an argument with your boyfriend is stressful, frustrating, and exhausting!
The best thing you can do is take some time to yourself so you can calm down, psychologically self-soothe, and begin to think things through.
Try doing something relaxing such as going for a walk outside, listening to music, journaling, or watching a movie. Taking a break will give you the space needed to reflect on what happened, gain some perspective, and figure out your next steps.
If you decide that it’s worth repairing your relationship, then you’ll need to be intentional with how you go about it.
Take a look at what was going on for you before and during the argument, what feelings were evoked for you, what might have contributed to your own reactivity, and what need wasn’t being met.
While you’re thinking things through, you’ll need to look at your own behavior to take responsibility for your part.
Keep in mind, argument’s always take two people so you’ll need to look at both sides. As hard as it might be, do your best to mentally step into his shoes to understand his perspective and where he might be coming from with his points of view.
Once you’ve gained some perspective, let him know you want to calmly talk about what happened so you both can get to a better understanding of each other’s needs and avoid arguments like this in the future.
Decide on a time that works for the two of you to talk it through and calmly approach the conversation.
Start your relationship repair attempt by taking responsibility for your part in how things spiraled during the argument. Try to avoid using any language that is blaming since that will make him defensive and he won’t be able to take in what you’re saying.
Use “I statements” to describe how you felt about the situation and let him know what you need from him in the future by saying it in a positive way.
For example, “I felt really hurt when you got upset with me last night. In the future, it would really help me if we could try to stay calmer and communicate without yelling at each other.”
Ask him what he needs from you in the future so you both don’t find yourself having the same argument again.
Try to listen to how he feels and understand what he needs from you. Then do your best to acknowledge his feelings and summarize what he needs from you. Once you’re both feeling heard and are ready to move on, try to shift gears into doing something fun or relaxing together.
If you find yourself having a hard time repairing your relationship after a fight or find that the arguments seem to be escalating with your partner, it might be a good time to reach out to a relationship expert for counseling or relationship coaching.
Investing in therapy can be a wonderful resource to help you have the healthy and fulfilling relationship that you deserve!
Kate Campbell, PhD, LMFT – www.bayviewtherapy.com
If you have a fight with your boyfriend, the first thing to do is to calm yourself down.
When emotions run high and things are heated, we do not always express ourselves in the most constructive way. We can also say things that we don’t mean, or exaggerate the truth. Once you have calmed yourself down, and perhaps reasoned things out with another person, then you can go back later and talk about it productively with your boyfriend.
Another important action to take after a fight with your boyfriend is to Inventory your own part in the conflict.
It is natural to want to focus mostly on the other person’s part and how and why they hurt you. Instead of doing that, try to focus on your own part, and how you may have contributed to the situation. By focusing on your own part, you can create change that you actually have control over.
The only things that you truly have control over are your own attitudes and actions.
And interesting effect of focusing on your own part is that the other person will mirror you and often do the same thing. This can lead to a mutually harmonious resolution instead of a blame-fest.
Once you have recognized your own part, take the high road and make amends.
This can mean an apology, but more importantly it means changing your behavior in the future. This is the key to changing your life and your relationship; continuous incremental improvement of yourself in a positive direction.
Finally, trust the outcome of doing the right thing.
It is not your job to make sure that the other person learns their own lessons or to try to control or take revenge. Do what you can to rectify the situation, communicate effectively, and learn lessons from the conflict in order to improve your relationship. Then trust the outcome and the process of growth, love, and giving grace where you can.
Anita Gadhia-Smith, PsyD, LCSW-C, LICSW – www.drgadhiasmith.com
Fights with your partner are never easy. It shows the human parts of both of you that you’d oftentimes like to ignore. Here’s a bit of guidance on how to navigate these moments without risking the entire relationship or your voice.
Emotional regulation and coping skills
- This is your number one need after a fight. It is so easy to get sucked into the hurt, anger, or sadness that can result from a fight. Without emotional regulation, we find ourselves starting the fight again, engaging in irrational decision-making, and oftentimes doing things we don’t mean to do.
- Having coping skills handy allows you to engage in emotional regulation and address the emotions you’re experiencing in a healthy way.
- Journaling allows you to let out all the thoughts you’re having in a private way and prevents more hurt in your relationship
- Deep breathing can help you have a calm body and thus a calmer mind
- This skill set will allow you to re-engage with your partner after some time in a way that will lead to a healing and productive conversation and prevent future resentment.
What if I’m right?
I’m going to stop you right there. Who is “right” in the fight does not matter. If this is the only thing that you care about, you are potentially adding another layer of suffering to an already stressful situation.
The best way to think about this is by focusing on the important points each of you are making and addressing how we, as a couple, can address these. The team approach is oftentimes the best when it comes to preserving relationships, both romantic and parenting.
It’s also ok to say you are both wrong or you are both right. Either way, the goal is to reach a middle ground where each of you can air your grievances and come up with a solution.
Keep in mind what you’re willing to risk
The decisions you make immediately after a fight are going to be rooted in your intentions. We can often get sucked into the idea of wanting to have the last word, wanting to get our way, or even wanting our partner to feel the same type of hurt we are feeling.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I willing to risk the future of the relationship?
- Is this fight important in the big picture?
- Are there outside factors that may be contributing to this fight?
Acknowledge and come up with a game plan
Focusing on a repair attempt, a phrase introduced by John Gottman, after a fight will enable you to establish an opportunity for reconciliation without dismissing your feelings.
Give each of you a few minutes of uninterrupted time to talk in a calm manner without aggressive or blaming language (rule of thumb: “I” statements over “you” statements). Acknowledge what the other is saying and explore how each of you can work to prevent the situation or make it better.
Sarah Vendegna, MS, LPC – www.vendegnacounseling.com
For the longest time, my approach to conflict with everyone was to avoid it at all costs. If a fight did happen, I wanted things to get “back to normal” as quickly as possible.
For many of us, conflict and fighting have negative connotations.
It may have been something in your household growing up that happened too much and you don’t want to repeat history in your current relationship.
On the other hand, it may have been something that was shied away from too much, leading to fighting seeming like the worst thing you can possibly do.
While fights can turn nasty and unhealthy, most of the time a fight is just two hurt/stressed out people trying to get the other person to hear them and the other person is struggling to do so.
After the fight is done, it becomes crucial to take some further steps when both of you are calmed down and not in-the-moment anymore to do some repair work.
Thinking about the following things may help:
1. How do each of you fight?
Some people fight by yelling/raising their voice or just generally trying to express their point of view. Other people fight by shutting down/stonewalling the other person and being closed off.
If you and your partner have different “fighting styles”, this is going to potentially make your fights worse.
The person who wants to express can find themselves “chasing after” the person who is wanting to shut down and this can just make things worse.
If one of you shuts down, give that person time before trying to come back together. That person may need 10 minutes or that person might need a couple days, but trying to rush to a resolution will not help things if they are not ready.
2. What can you learn from this fight?
In every argument, there is something to be learned. We have a choice: to either stand by our point of view believing strongly that we were right and the other person was wrong, or to look for the common ground.
One way to think about this is trying to find the “kernel of truth.”
Every point of view has a reason for why it is what it is. If you’re arguing about housework and wanting more help with chores, there is a reason for why he hasn’t been helping as much as you would like.
Make an effort to listen to the reasons.
If you’re making an effort to validate his perspective and if he’s making an effort to see and validate your point of view, the two of you can get through conflict when it comes your way.
To get here, the dust has to settle and you both have to be ready to make things better, but things can improve when both of you are willing to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand their viewpoint.
Michelle Henderson, MA, LMHC – www.nextchapter-counseling.com
Even in the healthiest and best relationships, couples will have arguments… in fact, healthy arguments can even be a sign of a good relationship because in the right scenarios you can learn more about each other and go deeper from those places of conflict, it’s also proof you both care.
So, it’s happened… your fears got the best of you, you were really triggered and you had a fight with him… now what?
Here are a few healthy ways to handle it.
1. Give yourself time to cool off.
In my first book ‘Art of Love’ I use the analogy of allowing the soup time to cool down before you try to eat it otherwise you’re just going to burn your mouth, the same is true in love and relating.
Don’t try to jump in when everything is heated give yourself and your partner healthy space and time to cool down and gain perspective.
Often when we have a chance to step back we are then able to see things more clearly and we can hold space for ourselves and our partner in a way that is seeking compromise and connection, not encouraging more fighting and disconnect.
2. Don’t keep the fight going.
Remember, in relating, we should always be seeking to do just that, relate to each other, to find compromise and common ground, to go deeper into love. Don’t keep the fight going, don’t carry on the silent treatment, the cold shoulder etc, because really that just means that you haven’t let it go.
A great relationship is a union of two good forgivers and ultimately you realize that holding onto anger is like holding a hot rock, you’re only burning yourself and in this case further damaging the relationship… let it go. Let your love be louder than your ego, soften and open your heart to your partner.
3. Talk it out.
You might be tempted to just sweep it under the rug, to go straight back to happily relating like nothing ever happened, but this can be a recipe for disaster. Without resolution, without getting to the heart of the issue, the same scenario will often play out in different ways again and again.
Try to get to the moral of the story so you can fix it and it doesn’t keep happening.
Keep in mind it’s not usually about the dishes being left in the sink or the trash not being taken out – those are bi-products of the real issues which is more likely; your not being present, thoughtful or aware etc. go deep to the root in order to create true healing growth and connection.
Your apology should be as loud as your disrespect was. Don’t just throw out a half hearted apology, be genuine and sincere.
Let your partner know you see the places where fear got the best of you. Let them know you have genuine remorse for any ways in which your actions hurt them.
Let them know that you’ve learned and will apply that knowledge in the future so that you don’t continue to repeat the same patterns.
It shouldn’t be about being ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ in love … that kind of mentality will keep you constantly divided. It should be about being Love … so ask yourself, what would Love do?
Treat your partner like they are on the same team as you and you are looking for solutions, not as someone who’s against you that your running defense on, this will make a world of difference. Apologize sincerely & admit where you are off.
Now that you’ve given yourself time to cool down, you’ve truly let the anger go, you’ve talked it out, you’ve apologized…. Take time to reconnect with your partner.
While I never suggest sex as a way to resolve an argument, I do definitely suggest it after you’ve taken these above steps.. whether it’s passionate love making, laying together heart to heart or side by side watching your favorite show, a long walk on the beach, playing together!
It’s truly important to remember to reconnect physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually with your partner after a fight.
This will calm the tensions and remind you, again, why you’re choosing to be with them in the first place.
Ashley Davene, Relationship Counselor – www.ashleydavene.com
Relationships take a lot of work, continuous effort and a great deal of compromise, insight and understanding.
Romantic love will inevitably change as you progress through your relationship.
But what lasts most should be the committed, emotional love that makes all healthy relationships worthwhile. Inevitably, since you and your partner will fight, what happens after the fight is over and how will this keep your relationship healthy?
1. One or both should apologize.
Listen to what your boyfriend has to say and while you may not agree with him, acknowledge him for feeling that way and explain why your views are different.
If you both listen to each other, the aftermath of a fight will not result in unresolved baggage, that is brought up next time.
See if you can come up with a compromise, or win-win situation that both of you can live with. This will enable you to move on from the argument, feeling like some effort was made on both sides.
2. Let things go.
If you harbor resentments, negative feelings or negative intrusive thoughts, you will probably have an argument again.
Ask yourself if the issue is really that important to focus on and if it isn’t let it go and move on.
If you feel strongly that there needs to be more discussion about it, set up a time to talk again and do it calmly, rationally and with an open mind.
3. Focus on the good things about your partner.
Obviously, there is some substance to the relationship or you wouldn’t be in it. Remind yourself about all that you love about this person and reflect on the positive., rather than constantly rehashing the negative.
4. Respect, understanding and patience make a relationship healthy.
If you care about your partner, if you want to be fair and honest, and if you want to maintain a long-term relationship, you would want to communicate well, listen openly and be tolerant.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Fighting (or what I like to think of as animated discussion) is a normal part of a relationship.
Ideally you both fight smart, which means you don’t fight to win but rather to learn, and then later you have a nice glass of wine .
If you don’t fight smart you both have probably engaged in critical, defensive and offensive tactics to try to win the fight.
So the nice glass of wine is probably out and instead you both have to soothe hurt feelings.
Fair fighting is a skill that you must learn to have a connected, loving relationship.
That means never fighting to win, avoiding John Gottman’s “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”: criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt, making I-statements and respectful listening.
If you’ve had a nasty fight you need to apologize for your part in it.
Some people need more time than others to cool down emotionally. You have to give or take that time. You can’t communicate if either of you is in a state of emotional arousal.
Calming down is a solo enterprise. Self-soothing is an important life skill in general. Although it’s hard to refrain from trying to soothe your partner, you can’t. Each of you is on your own for that.
When you are both calm, it might be helpful to revisit the fight, not the content of (although you’ll have to that too at some point), but the process of it.
Think about how you could have behaved better. Affirm your love and caring and your desire to learn how to peacefully resolve your issues. Hopefully he’ll do that too, but your behavior can’t be dependent on his.
Some people cool down but never come back to deal with the issue.
That leads to a build up of angry, hurt feelings that can be really toxic to your relationship.
At some point in the near future you need to look at the issue and try to resolve it.
Try to follow the guidelines for fair fighting. A compromise is often a good outcome. If you remember to care more about each other that about getting your way, you won’t need to have a post-fight strategy.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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