Ban blame, and outlaw the words never and always. Criticism, contempt, confrontation and hostility are like gas on a fire and can burn your relationship to the ground. Keep a verbal fire extinguisher within reach. If an argument is spiralling out of control, try one of these techniques.
- Change the subject, inject gentle humor, and show some extra appreciation. If it’s too late, bail out now. You can always come back when the fire is on simmer and resume when you have both cooled off.
- Never fight when you are hungry, fatigued, or intoxicated. Being tired or hungry will unleash words that cannot be taken back. Break out the bubbly after you have resolved things.
- Focus on the environment – turn off the tv, laptop or iPod. Resolving differences with your partner is too important to do on the fly. Giving them your undivided attention opens lines of communication and builds intimacy.
- Listen, listen, and listen some more. Even if you can accurately predict exactly what your mate is going to say, hear them out. Just like you were taught in kindergarten, it’s about feelings and your partner’s need to be heard. Don’t interrupt, offer a solution, or defend yourself too soon. Nod your head, rephrase or just say “um-hum” to show that you are respectful of the emotions behind the words.
- Rehearse this useful phrase “I’m sorry“. Everyone makes mistakes, and apologies are crucial for the health of your relationship.