A Therapist Discusses 3 Ways To Move Past A Big Fight With Your Partner
Kissing and making up is always closer than you think, even in the midst of the heaviest arguments.
By Jourdan Travers, LCSW | March 15, 2023
Disagreements and arguments, although uncomfortable, are a natural and even important part of any relationship. These are the rare times when you and your partner can openly voice conflicting ideas, speaking directly from the heart. Without such opportunities, relationship progress can be stunted and a surface-level emotional bond can take the place of what could be a deeper connection.
The strength of a relationship is measured less by two partners' ability to avoid arguments and more by how you emerge as a couple after a conflict. Think of it like a controlled fire – the short-term damage allows for a healthier long-term ecosystem.
Here are three things to do to reconnect and recover after an argument with your partner.
#1. Have the reconciliation talk
After the screaming, stonewalling, and/or criticizing subsides, take some time to process your experience with your partner to prevent yourself from fighting about the same thing in the future. You probably don't want to do this right after the fight. Give it some time, perhaps a few hours or even a day or two, to let the nerves settle.
Make sure you take responsibility for your role in the argument. Focus on finding a compromise instead of a victory.
A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that couples who focused on actively repairing their relationship and gaining new perspectives had an easier time regaining their intimacy than couples who either avoided talking about the fight or simply let it go.
Here are a few steps you can follow to process the argument in a healthy way:
- Listen to their story and how they felt about the situation. How do they feel about their response to the situation and your response to it?
- Acknowledge your role in the conflict. How did you contribute to the creation and/or escalation of the conflict?
- Plan for more effective ways to communicate with one another to avoid similar conflicts in the future.
Remember, fighting about the same thing again and again is never a good sign. (In such cases, couples' therapy may be warranted.) New arguments that bring new resolutions, however, can be healthy and constructive for the relationship.
#2. Find comfort
Arguments with your partner can leave you feeling distant or disturbed. To rekindle the affection, go back to the basics and revisit the foundation of your relationship. Embrace the things that you enjoy about your partner by expressing verbally and/or physically what attracts you to them.
It may surprise you how much of a difference a simple gesture like a hug, an expression of gratitude, or a request to spend time together can make. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships explains how partners who give and receive affectionate touch from each other on a regular basis are happier and report higher relationship satisfaction.
The idea is to bring back the familiarity of the intimate space that you shared with your partner, which was temporarily lost during the conflict. Your time together, post-fight, can feel even more special now that both of you have repaired the crack in the relationship together.
#3. Share laughter
Spending quality time together trying out new activities, especially ones that invoke laughter, can deepen your bond. An article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science explains how sharing laughter is associated with feelings of safety and closeness in a relationship.
Laughing at the same thing reinforces the notion that you both share a similar outlook on the world and, hence, adds depth to your experiences. Get in touch with your inner child – painting, playing games, spending time at the arcade, etc. – can help you and your partner connect in a fun yet meaningful way.
Reminding yourself and your partner that you can still have fun together is reassuring and can help you put your rough patches in perspective.