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How To De-Escalate an Argument With Your Partner - Helpful Tips

Updated: May 7

Couple Arguing

No relationship is immune to disagreements, but the way those disagreements are handled can have a long-lasting impact on the health of the relationship. You could be bickering about chores, having a heated conversation about finances, or just snapping at each other for no apparent reason!

Regardless of the situation, it is important to be able to recognize when you are in an argument so that you may work towards de-escalating the argument and communicating with understanding and respect for one another. Here are some helpful tips and strategies to help you effectively de-escalate an argument between you and your partner.

Take a Breath

When tensions are high, it is easy to let yourself get caught up in the heat of the moment. Instead of fighting fire with fire, take a deep breath or two to allow yourself to collect your thoughts and think clearly. This will allow you to then reassess the conversation at hand with fresh eyes and a calmer demeanor. 

Tone and Body Language - Don’t Yell!

Not only do you want to hear your partner out, but it’s also important to reflect composure and understanding in your body language. Listening starts with making adjustments to your own body. Try to use a calm tone and have a relaxed posture.

Avoid pointing fingers, crossing arms, and most importantly, raising your voice. You want to avoid yelling and screaming, as this will make your partner feel like they’re being attacked and make it seem that your points stem from a place of emotion rather than logic. Using these steps will help set the tone and boundaries for the conversation. Ensuring both parties feel respected is imperative in working towards a compromise as a united front.

Listen to Your Partner

During the conversation, try to keep an open mind when your partner is speaking. Look into their eyes and truly hear them out. When you take that approach, your thoughts and responses may be reactionary instead of fully thought through.

One part of de-escalating is making sure you understand the other person, in addition to figuring out what you need. Let your partner give you their full viewpoint, ask open-ended questions to help them talk out their thoughts and feelings, and summarize back to them what you heard. This will validate their feelings and concerns.

Remember, this isn’t about who is right and who is wrong. Both parties should work towards resolving conflict and be open to a change in their opinion or be okay with disagreeing with respect.

Keep the Conversation Relevant and Think of the Root Cause

One way to allow you to reach a compromise more quickly is to keep the conversation relevant. Don’t bring up topics that aren’t related to the root cause of the issue at hand just because you are both upset.

Take the time to understand the reason behind the argument. Are you arguing about the catalyst to the argument, or is it actually about another, deeper issue? Are either of you being defensive about one topic in particular? Thinking through questions like this can keep the conversation from descending further into chaos and help you refocus.

Take a Step Back

Sometimes, you might have difficulty getting your thoughts in order, maintaining composure, or regulating your emotions. That’s okay! We all need to take a step back from time to time.

If the argument is getting heated and derailed, ask to take a breather and get back to it when both of you have a chance to cool off.

This time apart will allow you to soothe your nerves, feel calmer and relaxed, and think about the argument objectively and focus on facts, without letting your emotions override your rationality. Once you feel calm enough, start with a deep breath and resume the conversation again. 

Know When It’s Time to Seek Help

There may come a time when you realize you’ve tried all these techniques and things aren’t improving. Consistent arguing could diminish relationship health and quality, it might be difficult to resolve conflict between just the two of you, you may feel like it's difficult to communicate, or trust may have been broken.

There could also be more serious issues at hand, such as gaslighting behavior, bullying, and emotional abuse. If any of these scenarios feel true, it could be an indicator that it is time to pursue couples counseling, where you can feel supported by a licensed mental health professional. Click here to learn more about our couples counseling services at Houston Therapy and how we can support you!

Remember, arguments are a normal part of any relationship, but you want to work towards healthy conflict resolution. There doesn’t have to be a winner. We hope you can use these tips to have an open conversation with your partner where both of you feel heard and respected.

Sana Kidwai

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