Are you tired of the endless cycle of fights between you and your partner where you end up feeling angry, deflated, and hopeless? Do you wish you could just stop fighting? Here are three easy ways to quickly defuse a situation before it escalates into a fight.
1. Listen to Your Partner
This is easier said than done. Just shut up and don’t say anything. One of the reasons why fights start in the first place is because partners don’t listen. They interrupt, get defensive, and justify their position. Then their partner feels invalidated, hurt, and gets defensive. This goes on and on until both people are exhausted. If you want different results, do something different. Just shut up and listen. Try it, it might work.
2. Validate Your Partner’s Experience
After you listen to your partner, you validate what you heard by paraphrasing it into your own words. You don’t parrot or interpret; you simply repeat what you heard. It’s not about what YOU think about the situation. It’s about how your partner experiences it. Take the time to enter into their world. See the issue from their point of view. Then tell them what you heard. Don’t argue your point. Just paraphrase what they’re saying. For example, if your partner tells you that they’re upset about doing the majority of cooking, you may respond by saying, “I hear you think that you do most of the cooking and you don’t like it”. Doing this typically de-escalates the situation quickly because your partner feels heard and therefore, doesn’t need to explain or justify their position. You’ve already done it for them.
3. Ask Your Partner for More Information
This feels counterintuitive. Why would you want to hear more about how you’ve screwed up or why your partner is upset at you? This is hard to do. When you feel wronged by your partner or guilty about doing something that you did to hurt him/her, it’s hard to ask for more information. In fact, our instinct tells us to do the very opposite. We tend to defend ourselves, tell our partner why we are right, or explain how he’s/she’s got it wrong. Our partner hears this as blame and defensiveness. Moreover, they don’t feel heard or validated. Therefore, the fight escalates. Nothing gets resolved. But by asking for more information or clarifying if you’ve got the situation right, our partner sees us as being open and understanding. He/she feels supported, validated, and loved. His/her guard comes down and so does yours. Trust is built and safety is created. It’s that easy.
If you want more information on how to break the negative cycle of fighting, contact Brentwood Counselling Centre today to see how we can help.