It can be tempting to air a long list of grievances when tensions run high. Spouting off complaints may make you feel like you’re winning the fight, but you’re really sabotaging your relationship. All those issues matter and deserve your attention, but you should address them as they come up — rather than in a single burst of rage. When you avoid talking about problems, small things grow bigger over time. Eventually, they grow so big that they obscure the true heart of your argument.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Angry people are not very good listeners (or communicators, for that matter). Force yourself to slow the dialogue down by telling your husband what you hear him saying. “When you say _____, I understand ______.” Then make sure that your understanding matches his intentions. If you do not understand each other, it will be nearly impossible to find a mutually satisfying solution.
Forgive During AND After
Trading insults and grievances back and forth will thrust you both into a vicious cycle. One of you will need to take the first step towards the other person. That step starts with forgiveness. You can stop the fight and pave the way for resolution by being the first to accept your fault or to see your husband’s perspective. By the end of your conversation, you may see new areas where forgiveness and apologies are necessary.
You will rarely (if ever) walk away from a fight with clean hands. Even if the fight wasn’t your fault to begin with, were you loving and kind the entire way through? Or did you say a few things you shouldn’t have? Did you become angry more quickly than you should have? Did you fail to offer your husband grace for his extenuating circumstances (like stress at work)? Was your tone sharp when it should have been gentle? Be sure to apologize for those actions.
Make a Plan
Conflict does not arise because couples want things to stay the same. Your differences became a problem because one of you needed a change. Instead of assuming that things will be different, tell each other the specific changes you’ll make to prevent future issues. Make sure that those actions meet his needs, as well as yours — rather than unilaterally identifying a solution.
Your conflict may be over when you have reached a mutual understanding, but it may not feel resolved. It may be difficult to release the tension of confrontation. Reconnecting with your husband through a hug or an activity that you both enjoy can help you move forward.