It is natural and inevitable that couples will argue, have differences of opinion, and that each side may need to retreat to his/her separate corner for a time out to think clearly and calm down. Especially when you put two very strong willed and independant people together, these clashes can be pretty intense. Let me be very clear about this: it is perfectly normal to fight, but it is how you act in the heat of an argument, and how you make up after an argument, that makes or breaks a relationship.

While arguing, try to be cognizant of what you are saying– for some of us, words matter a lot. Sometimes, the message might be a good one, but if your delivery sucks, the message will get lost in the process. Some of us resort to name calling, sarcasm, we go global or we shut down– again all very common tactics– but if we can try to catch ourselves and minimize this behavior in the heat of the moment, just imagine how much better off we would all be.  If the point is to express your disappointment and to prevent a future misunderstanding, then you need to try to deliver that message as clearly as possible while refraining from kindergarten behavior.

After a fight, when you are in a better place, it is very healthy to analyze how the argument spiraled out of control. Remember, you are NOT re-hashing the argument or trying to place blame on the other person. This is about understanding each other’s point of view, figuring out a way to avoid each other’s triggers in the future, and above all, acknowledging that you are sorry for hurting the other person’s feelings. Unfortunately, apologies are becoming rarer and rarer these days. Perhaps some people see that as a sign of weakness? Well, I see it as an incredible strength– it takes courage to admit you are not perfect, that you made a mistake, and that you are sorry. Without mastering the art of an apology, you will never truly be able to kiss and make up.

And here is one final tip from a friend that has been married for a very long, long time: implement a statute of limitations.  In other words, if you are pissed about something, you have 24 hours to get it out of your system.  After that, you can’t bring it up– not a week later, or a month later.  Learn to let it go– at least if you want to make it last with your partner.  Life is simply too short to stay angry.