What to say to stop a relationship fight from blowing up
Who hates relationship fights? Raise your hand. EVERYBODY should be raising their hand. Fights suck. I’m not talking about lively debates about stuff happening in the news or dumb squabbles about who’s turn it is to do what chore (though both these situations can, of course, be the catalyst for a bonafide fight). No, what I’m talking about is a fight that gets personal and ugly and leaves one or both parties crying or calling each other mean names, or crying AND calling each other mean names. A lot of times things don’t HAVE to get ugly. The fight doesn’t have to escalate into a full-blown screaming match. Most importantly, feelings don’t have to get hurt.
So, here’s a list of things (accompanied by cat faces) you can say to stop a relationship fight from turning into the kind of fight that can ruin your night/weekend/life.
1.) “I’m sorry.”
It’s insane how many fights get ugly because both people refuse to apologize. But here’s the thing: apologies are MAGIC. If you say you’re sorry and you actually mean it, it is possible to cut a fight off right at the legs. I know it’s hard to apologize when you’re pissed/don’t want to back down/are 1000% sure you’re right. But remember, apologies are magical creatures, and in a fight (and in life) magic is a super helpful commodity. You don’t even have to be completely sorry. You just have to want this fight to be OVER stat.
2.) “What can I do to make this right?”
Here’s the thing- you can’t say this in a passive-aggressive-whiny-jerk-face-y way. You have to sincerely want to make the situation better and sincerely not know how. The nice thing about this line is, if the other person plays along, they basically are going to give you ALL THE ANSWERS re: how to get out of this fight. And if you don’t like your sparring partner’s answer? Well, at least now you have an opening offer for negotiations.
3.) “Thank you for being so awesome about. . .”
Wait, what, what, what, what, WHAAAAT? Why would you THANK the person you’re in a fight with? Well, you’re not actually thanking them for fighting with you, obviously, but it’s nice when you’re fighting with someone you love to acknowledge all the things they do right. If it’s a fight about how you wish your partner would, I don’t know, listen better, it’s nice to acknowledge all the ways he or she does excel in your relationship, i.e. “You’re the most supportive person in my life and you make me laugh a gazillion infinity times a day and there are so many things that are great about our relationship, thank you for all the things you do that are awesome, but this listening thing is really hard on me, and that’s why I want to work on fixing this.”
4.) “I don’t want to be angry, and I don’t want to hurt you, I just want to solve this problem.”
A lot of times, a fight isn’t about solving the problem, it’s about making the other person feel badly about all the things there are to feel badly about. So it’s worth thinking about taking feeling badly off the table. No insults, no humiliating, no guilt-tripping, no ranting, and no yelling and screaming. Just both doing your best to calmly and rationally solve the problem. If you make it about solving the problem together, then you put both you and your partner on the same side. You’re no longer at war. You’re working together towards a common goal.
5.) “I love you.”
Because sometimes when someone is screaming at you and calling you names it’s pretty difficult to remember that this person actually loves you. When things get tense, you have to remind the people you love that you still love them. Love is magical, probably even a little more magical than apologies, which is CRAZY magical, love is basically the most magic thing there is.
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