It’s not always easy to move on from a disagreement in a relationship. But with a few pointers, you can navigate conflict.
You argued with your partner or someone close to you. You want to move on from it, but you both find it difficult. Is there a way around it?
Avoiding arguments isn’t necessarily the best way to manage friction. Arguments are inevitable in all relationships.
It’s how you handle the situation during and after the disagreement that matters.
Getting over an argument requires looking past your emotions and considering what you want out of the relationship.
Learning to handle the situation and steering the argument into a productive direction is possible.
Arguments can be difficult to settle if you don’t let things go. Arguments can escalate when you have a hard time moving on.
You may hear “get over it” if your partner wants to move past the conflict, but you may not be ready to do that just yet.
Why does this happen?
There are many reasons you’re having a hard time letting go of a topic and feel the need to discuss it over and over again.
Perhaps the problem may not be resolved, and you feel the need to reach a solution. You might feel frustrated that your partner doesn’t seem to have the same urgency to fix things as you might.
When this happens, anger may show up unexpectedly, and your partner may not understand why. This could create more friction and lead to a new or the same argument again.
It may also be that the argument is not really about what you’ve been discussing. Perhaps some other disagreements or emotions haven’t been discussed, which is why this related topic keeps coming up.
If you’re continuously arguing and making up only to argue again, there’s probably something else going on.
Every relationship is different, and the reasons behind your arguments are unique to you.
You just got home after a long day at work, and all you want to do is sit down and relax. Then, your partner enters the kitchen and asks you, “When are you making dinner?”
You can feel the frustration building inside you. Consequently, an argument ensues. This is the third night in a row.
This is natural and not uncommon. But constant arguments can take a toll on your overall well-being and relationship.
When you find yourself in a mundane argument, you could consider the following steps to end it.
Take a pause
“Ask yourself how you want to phrase what you’re going to say. This slows down the pace, helps you calm down, and makes you more likely to be heard,” says Brian Wind, a licensed clinical psychologist and adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University residing in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
“It’s possible that your partner might be emotionally charged and demand that you respond immediately, but be firm,” he says.
Wind also suggests repeating what your partner said so they know you’re acknowledging them. “Most people tend to calm down once they feel acknowledged and are willing to wait,” says Wind.
Consider a repair attempt
To keep your quarrel from getting out of hand is to consider a repair attempt, psychologist John Gottman says in his book, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.”
A repair attempt de-escalates a conflict while handling it, Gottman explains. This attempt or action could be a word, a silly gesture, or a caring physical approach.
Consider agreeing on repair attempts that won’t offend either partner. The more you know each other, the more effective repair methods you’ll come up with.
If you’re becoming upset or want to avoid saying something you might regret, consider telling your partner you need some time and space.
“Tell them you need 10 minutes to calm down, and that you will come back to this,” says Wind. “Come back after 10 minutes, once you have calmed down or are more prepared to handle the conflict. It’s more likely that you can calmly sort out your differences this way.”
Sometimes, it can be challenging to get over an argument, especially if you’re still hurt.
The following tips can be helpful.
Think about the relationship
“The backdrop of moving past arguments must be that the relationship is more important than the argument,” says Ari Hahn, a licensed clinical social worker based in Morristown, New Jersey.
Hanh says it’s essential to let the other person know that they’re more important than your “temporary hurt feelings.”
Hahn also suggests using “I feel statements” when expressing your feelings to your partner.
“Express your feelings in a clear, non-blaming, concise manner,” he says. Expressing your feelings and empathizing with the other person shows them that they matter, even if you’re upset.
Avoiding them isn’t the answer
It’s natural to protect yourself when you feel hurt. This may look like avoiding any contact with your partner or rejecting their attempts to mend things. Yet, it’s a good idea to remember what you want to get out of the argument.
If it’s solving the situation, consider not putting a wall up.
“In order to get over an argument, make sure not to avoid the other person,” says Holly Schiff, a licensed clinical psychologist in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Some space may be needed, Schiff says, but it’s important not to engage in stonewalling.
“Give yourself the time you need, but don’t completely brush them off if you see an attempt to make up,” she says.
Could the other person be right?
Considering that the other person might be right, though easier said than done, could open the doors to moving on from the argument.
Wind suggests trying to think about how your partner may be feeling. Considering alternative versions of the same situation may also help you see your partner’s perspective.
“You might not agree on the issue, and the person might be mistaken about your intentions behind your actions, but the person is never wrong for feeling the way they do,” says Wind.
Even after de-escalating an argument and moving past it, you may find that it’s still bothering you. If you or your partner can’t seem to get past it, it may be a good idea to seek help.
A licensed professional therapist can help you learn how to handle arguments or the reasons causing them.
Moving past an argument can be difficult. Though arguments sometimes seem as if they could go on forever, exploring the causes or all the options to resolve them may help.
When arguing with your partner, consider these tips to diffuse the situation:
- taking a pause
- using a repair attempt
- taking a timeout
If you’re trying to let the argument go, consider how much you want to preserve the relationship and how you would feel if you were in the other person’s shoes.
Working on your communication skills may help you get past any argument, but sometimes, you may want to make sure the issue is truly resolved. A mental health professional can help you both.