It’s inevitable that you will fight in a relationship. A conflict is an interaction between two people who care, and some psychologists would say that the relationships with no conflict are the ones whose flame has died out.
While it is unavoidable, conflict in a relationship doesn’t need to be harmful. In fact, it can be productive, healing, and help the relationship. As Dr. Kimerer L. LaMoathe put it in Psychology Today, “An argument is not over until we’re grateful it happened.”
Here are some tips to healthily argue with your partner and maybe improve the relationship.
Be honest with your partner
While it sounds obvious, it can be harder than you think to be honest with your partner about what you need or how you feel your needs aren’t being addressed. It can even be hard to be honest with yourself, but if both of you don’t know the real reason that you’re upset you’ll fail the fight before you start.
Enter the fight in good faith and compassion
Understand that your partner has reasons and concerns like you, and being on this equal footing you should approach an argument with empathy. You don’t want to be attacked, so do not attack or lash out as this has never happily ended a fight.
Set rules for the fight
Hey, it works for boxing, but some experts find that rules like a set time for a discussion can give you both time to think and prepare what to say so that you’re not reactionary or defensive when the time comes for a discussion. It’s important that you both feel safe. Another rule might be that you allow for a time-out in a fight.
Be flexible and leave room for your partner to be flexible
You should very much be willing to compromise for your partner. You can be completely right and still need to listen and address your partner’s needs. That being said, you should give them a clear solution-based place to go to satisfy your concerns. This ties into the next recommendation of…
Request, don’t complain
Don’t offer problems without a solution. “I hate that you never do the dishes!” should instead be, “Would you please do the dishes?” A difference in phrasing can make your partner feel included and will go a long way in getting what you feel you need because you’ve actually asked for it.