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5 Ways to Fight and Still Protect Your Relationship


If THIS is how your fights go, the odds aren’t in your favor (says science).

Science confirms that it’s no longer just about how you fight, it’s what you do after the argument that may determine if you’re going to go the distance.

You’ve recently argued with your significant other. Things got more heated than usual, and now all you can think about is how you wish it would have happened.

Maybe you fought dirty or didn’t get a chance to say how you really felt. Maybe the issue is still unresolved, and you don’t know how to reapproach the subject.

So you sit there stewing in your emotions, not realizing that the longer you wait, the more likely it is that you break up.

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Maybe not immediately, but according to psychologist John Gottman, couples who stewed in their emotion and allowed contempt to build up with their partner were more likely to get divorced within 16 years. Conversely, couples who talked about conflict right after it happened and who took the necessary action to resolve it were less likely to divorce.

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Arguments are going to happen, but according to the research, what you do after will be what makes or breaks your relationship. How can you approach an argument in a healthier manner?

  1. Discuss your arguments almost immediately.

    Don’t wait to discuss your feelings or position about the argument. Waiting around allows you to overanalyze or get more invested in your emotions and you are less likely to think clearly.

  2. Take responsibility for your actions.

    Acknowledge your wrongdoing or what you could have done better to prevent or deflate the argument. Could you have been more sensitive to your partner or taken a different tone?

  3. Listen with an open mind.

    Listen to your partner’s feelings without judgment or criticism. Create a space for you to communicate honestly with one another.

  4. Be positive in your search for a resolution.

    Don’t approach the conversation defensively or with an accusation because your partner will immediately shut down. Instead, ask what you can do better and what actions you both can take next time that will have a positive effect.

  5. Acknowledge your partner’s feelings.

    Apologize to your partner if needed. Repeat back what they said so that they know you heard them, and let them know you understand where they’re coming from.

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Next time your argument escalates, don’t ignore it or wait to address your concerns. Using the above tactics will assure a better way to communicate and strengthen your relationship.

This guest article originally appeared on If You Fight Like THIS You’re Headed Toward A Breakup.

5 Ways to Fight and Still Protect Your Relationship

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2018). 5 Ways to Fight and Still Protect Your Relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 29 Mar 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.