Relationship conflict is unavoidable because everyone has different needs and desires. So naturally, these differences sometimes keep us from seeing eye-to-eye, and even minor problems can trigger fights with your partner. Fighting might feel frustrating in the moment, but it can bring growth and improved intimacy to your relationship when handled correctly. In addition, learning to navigate the post-disagreement process can help your marriage come back even stronger than it was before. Our experts on marriage counseling in Windermere recommend these tips for healing your marriage after a fight:
It is risky to attempt to resolve a problem when you and your spouse are emotionally charged, which sometimes leads to further relationship problems. These risks make it critical to take timeouts, whether after an argument or in the middle of heated conflict.
Try giving your partner room to breathe by stepping away to avoid causing additional hurt during serious conflicts. Even practices as simple as practicing deep breathing or going to the kitchen for a drink of water can help you calm down, gather your thoughts, and become more emotionally neutral.
Some spouses like to have a plan for arguing, like an agreement that it is okay to leave an emotionally charged situation if the goal is to prevent it from escalating. Others may schedule a time to revisit the issue once emotions have subsided. No matter how you handle the situation, the goal is to wait until you are both calm and ready to discuss the problem objectively.
It is best not to hang on to hurt or anger after you have a chance to calm down. This will risk harming your relationship further and causing you suffering. So, consider apologizing when the time is appropriate. Remember that being the first one to apologize does not mean taking sole responsibility for the disagreement. Instead, you acknowledge that you were both hurt, but you still care and are there for your spouse; and you do want to heal from the disagreement.
Try offering a verbal apology about the fight, like “I am sorry I threw [topic] up in your face when we were arguing." Or give a physical notion of warmth, like a hug. Or, you can invite them to talk with a small, encouraging gesture like bringing their favorite snack. These actions can relieve tension and help the recovery conversation be much more productive.
Often, during heated exchanges, we are too worried about making a point that we fail to consider how our spouse feels. Once you are both in a more rational state of mind, take some time to listen to your spouse’s side. Practice reflective listening habits to show them that you hear what they say.
Repeat what they are saying to you back to them. Simple statements like, “It sounds like you felt abandoned when I locked myself in the bathroom to avoid listening to you," can validate their feelings when they are upset. In addition, acknowledge their pain even when you disagree with their perspective. A statement like, “I am sorry [topic] made you feel [emotion].”
While listening to your spouse relive your role in the fight can be challenging, do your best not to get defensive. Active listening is a great way to promote your marital bond and make sure they feel supported and heard.
Use these tips for healing your marriage after a dispute. And, when your problems seem unmanageable, marriage counseling in Windermere can help. Contact us today for more information on how we can help you improve your union.
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.