Making Up After You Fight with Your Partner

There is no urgency to explain or defend. If things get tense take a break and then invite a conversation, rather pushing someone into a discussion. Invitations support cooperation, rather then bullying others into speaking when its convenient only for you. It can help to ask:

“Is this a good time to talk?”
“I want to talk, can we sit down tomorrow after dinner?”
“I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?”
“I’d like to talk about___________. When is a good time for you?”

Second, come right to the point and use an “I” statement. For example, “I felt hurt when..” or “I’m concerned about ….” or “I’m feeling really… (put an emotion here like sad, scared, frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed), and I need your help.”

Third, make a request for what you would like to see happen going forward, such as: ” I’d prefer …(list something specific and do-able here).”

Another important point, is to make the request in the positive, rather then the negative. If we want someone to stop shouting, we can for example, suggest: “I’d prefer you talk in a calm voice.” The idea is that we need to let the other person know what we want instead of what they are already doing. If we say stop doing so and so, they may be confused on what else they can do, so they simply continue acting as they always have.

When people feel bad, they feel that their pain is so bad that no one can really understand it. Sometimes the best way to show understanding is to admit that you can’t understand just how bad a person feels. That’s why a person who is hurting would probably rather have you say, “Your pain must be awful. I wish I could understand just how sad (or hurt or lonely) you feel.”

The key to understanding the other person is identifying their feeling. These feelings can be implied in body language or tone. So it’s helpful to make the implied explicit by commenting in what you observe: “You sound angry, your shouting.”
“You look sad, your crying.”
“You seem worried, your trembling.”

Do not make threats or hold the relationship hostage by giving ultimatums. This only serves as a form of manipulation. These behaviors antagonize another’s fear of rejection, abandonment and loss. The attempt to scare someone into agreement leads to resentment due to feeling controlled by seeking submission rather then compromise.

Avoid using “Shoulds”: The word should implies I know what is best and if you don’t do as you should you are then guilty of being wrong. Replace with, “I prefer…” Remember everyone’s perception of reality is their “reality” or “truth”. There is no agreed upon right or wrong, good or bad. We only have personal preferences and taste.

Make an active effort to look at what you can control and what your are responsible for in your relationships. You cannot expect others to read your mind and must avoid the belief that they “should know…” without your saying it. You cannot change anyone else. You are powerless over everyone and everything but yourself and your efforts. No one can make you act out aggressively, you have a choice and you control your decisions.

Young couple photo available from Shutterstock

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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