Written by Danielle Adinolfi, MFT

Originally published on PhiladelphiaMFT

When you fight with your partner it’s hard not to try and win the fight. But a momentary win means you are chipping away at the foundation of your relationship.  Over time this continued pattern pushes you further apart until you don’t know how you ended up as distant as you are from one another.  Here are three things to keep in mind when you are arguing:

1. Avoid saying “you always” and “you never.” Blaming your partner by using a word as absolute as always or never immediately puts them on the defensive. Try beginning statements with the word I. For instance, you might say, “I felt frustrated when you didn’t offer to pick up the kids.”

2. No name-calling. Name calling communicates to your partner that you do not respect them, and that will only help to push you further apart. Name-calling can be considered a type of verbal abuse, and is never acceptable in an argument.

3. Be a good listener. Listen to your partner’s concerns and be sure to acknowledge them rather than thinking about what to say next. Your primary goal should be to understand your spouse’s point of view, and when you have achieved that, then (and only then) you can help them understand yours.

Each time one person comes away victorious, the relationship loses. In the game of marriage, winning the battle means losing the war. Keep your relationship healthy by thinking of how you can both walk away from an argument feeling heard and understood.

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