No one wants to fight, but they do anyway. Understand why and what you can do about it.
If you have an occasional fight, that’s alright
It happens to the best of us. The real measure of a good marriage or committed relationship is not whether or not there are fights, but how long it takes people to make up. If it takes hours, there are moderate problems. If it takes days, there are severe ones.
Here are 10 things that you can do to make up sooner and get back on track:
1. Decide that the marriage is more important than being right—One way to do that is to ask yourself whether proving yourself right is more important to you than having a strong connection with your spouse. While it is important for us to make the right choices for ourselves, it is often not necessary to prove that to our spouse.
2. Don’t attack, defend, or explain—Don’t start to give reasons for why you were fighting or you will restart the fight.
3. If you were wrong, admit it–Admitting when you are wrong will help to build respect and ease tension. Even if you were right about the topic, you may have been wrong in the way you behaved. For example, simply saying, “I’m sorry. I should have listened to you more patiently without losing my temper,” can go a long way toward reconciling.
4. Make sure you have calmed down after your argument—Don’t try to make up in order for your spouse to calm you down. Calm yourself down before you make up. Taking a walk, talking to a friend, or listening to soft music are all good ways to calm down. When to give space and when not to.
5. Be mature, even if your spouse isn’t—In every marriage, one spouse is more mature than the other. It’s either going to be you or it’s going to be your spouse. If you are the more mature one, don’t let your spouse’s lack of maturity bring you down. Let your maturity help to bring your partner up.
6. Restart communication by helping your spouse to be right—If your spouse had some good points during the fight, say so, but don’t attack or defend. Your spouse may reciprocate, but don’t count on it. Don’t ask, “Didn’t I have some good points too?” unless you want to fight some more.
7. Deal positively with continued verbal attacks following an argument—Your husband, wife, or significant other may not be good at calming down and continue to shoot comments at you. Don’t fan the flames. If you don’t know how to deal with attacks, then at least don’t participate. Your spouse may be upset because you are not continuing to argue, but that’s OK. Arguing more just does more damage.
8. Take responsibility for change after an argument—Do your part to work on whatever valid criticisms your spouse had of you, even if he or she does nothing. This is not compromising your principles. If the criticisms were valid, then changing will earn you respect, not lose it.
9. Reaffirm your desire for a good marriage after an argument—Keep it positive. “I don’t want to fight with you and have a bad marriage,” is negative because of the words “don’t” and “bad” and invites more attacks. “I love you, and I want to have a good relationship with you” is positive.
10. Don’t rush your spouse to reconcile—Making up is opening the door to reconnecting. It is a loving invitation to reconnect. Be patient until your spouse is ready to come through that door and reconnect with you. Allow your husband or wife to have space if that is what he or she needs. For some people, men especially, that is the only way they know how to calm down.
When trying to make up doesn’t work
When we try to make up and it doesn’t work, or when we continue to fight about things that really are not very important, it means that there are bigger issues underneath. Sometimes these issues are part of our baggage from the past and they don’t just go away. Learning how to help your spouse deal with them is really important. The sooner you do that, the sooner your marriage can be good again.