Q: When my boyfriend and I fight, we end up blowing up at each other. How can we argue more productively?
A: First, realize that arguing, even if it grows heated now and then, isn't necessarily a bad thing. I get more concerned when patients say they never fight. Arguing indicates that partners are secure enough to reveal their feelings, even if they differ. Try these tips to handle future clashes more constructively.
Don't go for the jugular Nothing good comes from name calling or hitting below the belt. Your anger will wear off, but you can't take back the words you've flung.
Listen with both ears Allow each other to talk, without being defensive, interrupting or checking your BlackBerry. Listening respectfully is a big part of fighting fairly.
Press PAUSE to cool down If things turn nasty or you're so angry that you can't think straight, take a breather. Say, "Let's try discussing this when we're calmer." Then make a specific plan to reconvene and talk again so the break doesn't devolve into an endless, simmering silence.
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