Would life be easier if you never argued with your partner? Sure. It would also be easier if we all had money trees in our backyards. Some things just won't ever happen – and an argument-free relationship is one of them. But the arguments themselves aren't really the thing that puts strain on relationships. It's how we resolve them (or better yet, how they often go unresolved)!
A study conducted last year reported that the average couple is fighting 19 times per month. Whew! That's a lot of making up. We'll save you the nights on the couch, the passive-agressive remarks, and the angry looks. The key strategy to resolving fights is...
A timer. Yep, just your run-of-the-mill timer - on your phone, your watch, or even the one in the kitchen. Here's what you need to do:
After the argument (and if necessary, a short cooling off period), come together and set the alarm for 5 minutes. The goal of those 5 minutes is to de-escalate from your fight to resume your daily life. Think of the 5 minutes as a bridge. You're crossing over to the other side.
The average couple fights 19 times per month.
In 5 minutes, you and your partner will do the following (advises relationship expert and author Dr. Taibbi):
- Go back and solve the original problem (or summarize the resolution you've already achieved). Many couples will apologize to each other, but they won't return to the original issue – because they don't want it to turn into another fight. So go back, calmly address it head on, or sum it up. Ex: "Alright, so in the future we'll discuss weekend plans before committing to them on the spot, right?"
- Find the moral of the story. Sure, fixing the problem is important, but more important is to learn about the underlying source. (It's probably not just about weekend plans.) So establish the moral. Ex: "When you make decisions without me, it makes me feel like you don't respect me."
- Break the tension. Once the heavy lifting is done, there's no need to be quite so serious. Make a joke or be silly, just to change the mood and make you both feel happier.
- Hug it out. Or – make out. Totally your call. But regaining physical closeness after a period of tension is like turning the page on the whole episode. You and your partner are both ready to start fresh.