How to Stop Fighting in a Relationship

How can I stop arguing with my significant other?
on November 07, 2023
Read time: 10 mins
by Moraya Seeger DeGeare

Every couple bickers from time to time, and even though it’s never nice, it’s normal!

However, if your relationship has become defined by conflict, you could be trapped in a cycle of arguments that’s difficult to break. So, how to stop fighting in a relationship? Or, if you enter this kind of relationship pattern, is there any hope for the future? 

Before you hit the self-destruct button on your relationship, or allow things to escalate any further, it’s important to take a step back and cool down. With the right communication skills and a positive attitude, it’s possible to stop fighting in a relationship and get things back on track. 

“You are two or more people with different realities working together to create one world; you will have opposing views, which is normal in relationships,” says Moraya Seeger DeGeare, a licensed marriage and family therapist and In-House Expert at Paired.

“Knowing how to work through those moments of conflict and feel stronger on the other side is a key element in a healthy relationship.” 

What is the cycle of fighting in relationships? 

If you’re constantly fighting about the same things or rehashing the same arguments, you could be stuck in a cycle of fighting that’s hard to escape. 

Argument cycles are common in relationships, where a lack of conflict resolution means you keep returning to the same fights. With this kind of cycle, the tiniest trigger can set you both off again, preventing any real productive conversations. 

If your relationship becomes defined by conflict or bickering, it’s impossible to maintain a healthy dynamic, with toxic behaviors slowly creeping in. When you’re stuck in this rough patch, arguments can quickly escalate and both partners can find themselves saying hurtful things that they don’t really mean in the heat of the moment. 

Unless you break these negative communication patterns and work on your conflict resolution skills, it’s difficult to redefine a healthy relationship dynamic. 

Is it normal to fight a lot in a relationship?

Couples fight all the time, and it isn’t a crime to admit it! 

Whether it’s over not taking out the bins, or working late, every couple has little triggers that could set off an argument. Surveys actually show that arguing can be healthy, with couples who argue effectively 10 times more likely to have a happy relationship than those who sweep difficult issues under the carpet. 

However, if couples are allowing their arguments to lapse into name-calling or petty jibes, it’s less likely that a productive resolution can be reached. Without communication skills, it’s very difficult to see your partner’s point of view, contributing to a greater cycle of arguments in the future. 

While bickering is normal in any relationship, with the stresses of life acting as a natural agitator in couples' lives, there is a limit to how frequent arguments should be. For example, if you’re fighting constantly with no resolution, it could mean that you need a time-out from your relationship to find common ground. Or that you may need to seek relationship advice from a professional to get you back on track.

What causes constant fighting in a relationship?

The greatest cause of constant fighting is avoidance. To avoid conflict, a lot of people tend to bite their tongue to avoid an argument. 

While this may seem like the best tactic at the time, letting all of this annoyance and anger build up means that it’s likely to come out at the wrong moment — with your point getting lost along the way. 

If you continue this kind of pattern, even the smallest arguments can blow up into huge conflicts, where everything you have been holding in suddenly comes out!

So why do couples fight? Trigger points for conflict vary from couple to couple, depending on their situation or the stage of their relationship. Usually, it's the little things that actually cause the spark for an argument, before it erupts into something more — with resentment brewing beneath the surface. 

For example, you might bicker about household chores, and money, or find yourself taking out your work stress on your partner. 

Some couples might argue out of jealousy or unhappiness with their situation or relationship. For example, your partner is flirting with other people and it’s really starting to bother you, with your arguments going round in round as the core issue fails to change. 

Other couples might find themselves stuck in constant arguments over their future plans or bigger life decisions, like whether they want to have kids or not. Or, could they last in a long-distance relationship if one partner had to move for work commitments? 

Every couple argues over different things, from the big issues to the small things. If you’re erupting over your partner not putting away the laundry, it’s probably wise to ask yourself why you’re angry in the first place and what’s the real problem you’re reacting to. Are there other relationship issues that are lurking under the surface? 

Getting to the bottom of why you’re fighting with your partner can help you tackle difficult conversations in a more healthy way. 

How do I stop fighting with my partner?

Intimate relationships shouldn’t be defined by constant conflict. It may seem like a huge task to break the conflict cycle, but it’s important to do so for the sake of your relationship and for your mental health. 

To stop fighting with your partner, it’s important to tackle your relationship problems head-on rather than shying away from a difficult conversation. 

“The key to interrupting a pattern of fighting is understanding what is happening underneath the fight you are having,” says Seeger DeGeare. 

“Fights are rarely about the content you're fighting about; deeper, meaningful motivators are driving this fight forward for you both. Such as feeling like you are not a priority your opinion does not matter, or perhaps you are feeling unloved.”

If you keep lapsing into unproductive arguments, take a deep breath, and try and stay on track with our tips.

Tips to stop fighting in a relationship

Positive outlook: As difficult as it may seem, try and go into the conversation with a positive attitude. Instead of expecting the chat to escalate, stay calm, and try and remember all of the positive aspects of the relationship. If you want to make things work, these kind of conversations need to be had!
Adopt compromise: Stop viewing arguments as some sort of competition, with the winner being the one who gets what they want. This isn’t a productive way to have a conversation and will just trap you into a toxic dynamic. Instead, be open to compromise and how you can work together to solve the problem.
Take a deep breath: No one is an angel around here and it’s normal to feel annoyance if your partner isn’t seeing your perspective. Instead of blowing things up and yelling at your partner, feel free to hit the pause button. Take a step back and give yourself the time to cool down. When you return, you’ll be able to see things with a clearer head and not say things you could regret down the line.
Keep to the point: If you want to have a conversation with your partner about a specific issue, try and stay on point. Bringing up how they didn’t clean the dishes last week isn’t going to help the situation! Nor is targeting their insecurities, or calling them names.
Express your feelings: Be honest how about their actions are making you feel, or how a certain situation is causing you upset or anger. Try a cause-and-effect approach, keeping to the specifics of why something upset you — so it’s super clear for your partner to understand.
Active listening: Take turns in expressing your feelings, and when it’s your partner’s turn to speak — make sure you’re listening. Try and engage with what your partner is saying, rather than planning what you’re going to say next!
Mind your tone: Be mindful of your tone throughout the conversation. Try not to sound too patronizing and avoid lapsing into sarcasm. This prevents misunderstandings and hopefully will stop things from escalating unnecessarily.
Watch your body language: Show that you’re invested in the conversation by facing your partner, maintaining eye contact, and using verbal prompts. Refrain from going on your phone, or getting distracted — make sure it’s clear your partner is getting your full attention!
Conflict resolution: When you’ve walked away from an argument, it’s important to make sure there isn’t any residual anger or resentment towards your partner that you continue to carry around. Try and get everything off your chest to reach a genuine resolution with your partner — so you can both walk away with active learnings for how you can prevent these issues from arising in the future.
Consider couples therapy: If you’re still going around in circles or can’t orchestrate a mature conversation, it might be time to seek professional help. Chat with your partner about the possibility of couples therapy, as a therapist could help you find the common ground you’ve been searching for!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the 3-day rule after an argument?

    The 3-day rule after an argument is whereby couples choose to take 3 days apart after a fight, to collect their thoughts and cool off. With the benefit of time, it can make it easier to see your partner’s point of view and define a clear agenda for conflict resolution.
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