During an argument, it’s common for people to get into tunnel vision. You may make comments that could emotionally wound your partner. Such arguments can cause ruptures between you and your partner. To maintain ongoing connection in intimate relationships, it is important to process and repair after arguments. If there isn’t emphasis on reconnection and processing, there can be lingering resentment that builds up. This resentment is likely to intensify your reactions in future arguments.
Fortunately, there are ways to repair after an argument.
How to repair after an argument with your partner?
Arguments with your partner are not necessarily the cause of breakups or relationship breakdown, but the way we argue and how we fix the situation after an argument can have an impact on the connection between you and your partner. These tips will be helpful to reduce the impact of an argument and improve the repair process afterward.
1. Take the time to cool off
Trying to fix a problem or connect emotionally right after an explosive argument is not a feasible option. You and your partner could end up arguing again and stoking the embers of your anger into a full-blown wildfire.
- Take a quick walk, effectively remove yourself physically from a tense environment
- Take deep breaths
- Listen to soothing music
- Visualize and think of something soothing
- Process your emotions. Write them down or talk to a friend.
2. Ask your partner if they’re ready to talk
Once you and your partner have had time to calm down, find out if they want to discuss the argument.
If your partner is not ready, ask them to consider a time for future discussion.
If you are both ready, sit down and…
- Talk about your feelings, especially what you felt during the fight. Avoid discussing why you felt that way or to make any commentary about your partner’s feelings.
- Be curious and open minded to your partner’s perspective. After taking time to acknowledge their thoughts and feelings, discuss your perception and the factors that may have influenced your behaviour. Focus on external factors (such as work load, dealing with rush, worry about finances, etc.) rather than pointing the finger at your partner. There are usually three sets of facts involved in an argument—your perspective, your partner’s perspective, and the circumstantial reality. When you talk about each of your perspectives, you’ll have a better understanding of the other person’s point of view.
- Talk about the triggers that you experienced. These could be past experiences or memories that resurfaced during the argument. Talk about why a particular memory is painful for you.
3. Take responsibility for your actions
Take ownership of your contribution and your role in the situation. Show your partner that you understand that you are partly at fault. Tell them the part of the argument that you feel ashamed of or feel badly about. Engage in self-reflection and then collaboratively discuss the areas in which each of you could learn and grow. Genuine accountability and reflection create room for forgiveness and fosters connection.
4. Look to the future and have a plan
Last and most importantly, create a constructive plan to avoid the issue in the future. If there is something you don’t want them to do or say, speak up. Provide helpful guidance to your partner and challenge any of your own expectations that they should know and pick up on your internal thoughts. After having expressed your concerns and expectations directly, reflect on the potential barriers for lasting behavioural change. For instance, a hectic work schedule, too many family responsibilities, and so forth can make it difficult for both partners to connect with each other. In such cases, the effort should be put in reducing these circumstantial factors and pressures rather than just expecting behavioural change from each other.