While it’s perfectly OK to have the occasional argument, there’s nothing fun or healthy about disagreements that just won’t quit. Whether you and your partner are fighting over something big, or something seemingly insignificant (like who should do the dishes), it’s always good to know how to end any argument.
If you keep a few tricks up your sleep, and know how to defuse such situations, you can get back to a happier, stress-free life — and maybe even save your relationship. That’s because (unsurprisingly) ineffective arguing can truly take a toll on things. “When couples can’t resolve their arguments it leads to deepening blame and resentment” relationship expert Dr. Joanne Davila, PhD tells Bustle. “People ‘dig in their heels,’ and partners become polarized against one another.”
There’s no denying knowing what to say, what not to say, and when to say it can make both your lives easier. As Davila says, “Being skilled at knowing how to end an argument can stop what begins as a small disagreement or hurt from turning into a relationship-ending disaster.” Sounds pretty necessary, right? If you’d like to know the tricks, read on for a few genius ways to end your arguments, so you can have the healthiest, most argument-free relationship possible.
- Stay Physically Close To Each Other
When having a disagreement, it can be tempting to yell at each other from across a room (or over the phone). But if you want the argument to end quickly, make it a point to sit near each other instead. “Simple touch, for many, can calm heated emotions before they get out of control,” says relationship expert Heather Claus. Sometimes holding hands or sitting with knees touching is all it takes.
2. Agree To Make Small Changes
If you and your partner constantly argue about the same little things (like where it’s appropriate to hang a towel or the correct way to wash dishes), you should just go ahead and let them be “right.” As Claus says, “it’s easy to just say, ‘Hey, could you show me (tell me, explain to me) what I’m doing wrong, and what you’d prefer?’” Definitely worth it.
- Use A Safe Word
As relationship expert Barry S. Selby, MA tells me, having a go-to “safe word” can be a great way to defuse arguments. If you or your partner feels like things are getting out of hand, simply say the word and then make a point of slowing and truly listening. (Genius, right?)
- Go Ahead And Take A Break
It’s not possible to shut every fight down the moment it begins. Sometimes it’s necessary to take a breather, and that’s perfectly OK. Just be sure to tell your partner when, exactly, you’ll be down to chat again. As licensed clinical psychologist Melanie Greenberg, PhD says, “It communicates to your partner that you are taking their concerns seriously and not just dismissing them.”
5. Agree To Disagree
There are some topics that are so difficult to agree on that it might be necessary to call it a draw. “This is nonjudgmental and can put an end to a stalemate without anybody losing face or feeling like they’re backing down,” Greenberg says. Totally worth it.
- Take The Argument Somewhere Else
If you two have been arguing for hours, it’s more than time to take it outside, so to speak. Go out to a coffee shop, or drive home from the restaurant. As Claus says, “sometimes a change of scenery is enough to clear the air.”
- Disagree Through A Different Medium
In the same vein, it can often help to pick up the argument again in a different form. “Arguing on the phone? Suggest to meet in person to discuss it further. Arguing in person? Suggest setting it aside and continuing the discussion via email to remove some of the heated emotion,” Claus says. It really can make all the difference in the world.
8. Go For A Walk Together
If you’re embroiled in a disagreement that just won’t quit, think about going for quick a walk. “Walking and talking reduces tension because feel good hormones are being released through physical activity, which will reduce the stress,” says life coach Lizzie O’Halloran. Do a few laps around the block and things should be a-OK.
- Look At The Bigger Picture
Take a moment to look at the issue in comparison to your relationship and your larger goals. As Kali Rogers, founder of Blush Online Life Coaching, says, “Perspective can change a lot about an argument. If you are able to ‘zoom out’ and realize that in the scheme of your relationship, this argument is a blip and both of you are getting stressed out for nothing, it can easily relieve the pressure you’re under and give you the space you need to become rational again.”
- Let Your Partner Know You’re Listening
One of the most frustrating things ever is that sense your partner isn’t really, truly listening. So make sure you do your part when it comes to hearing (and understanding) what’s being said during a fight. As couples therapist Evie Shafner says, “Say to your partner, ‘Let me see if I understand you’ and then reflect back what you heard your partner say.” It seems so simple, but it works like a charm.
11. Get Naked
Yes, (if you’re home and you’re both cool with it) getting naked with your partner really can help end an argument. “It’s hard to stay mad at someone when they are naked,” says marriage and family therapist Jessica Bowen, MA, LMFTA, CHT. “Ultimately it should make you remember that you are both just human.” Kinda funny but still so sweet, don’t you think?
Tricks like these can help you end an argument before it gets out of hand. Sure, you may have to “lose” the fight, or agree to disagree, but it’s so much better than simmering in anger or letting the situation get out of control.