How to keep your cool during an argument with your partner

Turns out arguments can be constructive

Disagreements are an inevitable part of any healthy relationship, but how we handle them can either strengthen our bond or lead to its unraveling. When emotions run high, our judgment can be clouded and lead us to say things we’re later going to regret. Keeping your cool during these moments isn’t just about self-control; it’s about intentionally creating a space for healthy communication that fosters understanding and closeness. Here are some essential strategies to keep you calm, cool, and collected during difficult conversations.

1. Embrace the power of a time out

When you’re talking about a tough topic, and you start to feel overwhelmed by your emotions—whether you’re feeling sad, angry, anxious, or something else—taking a break from the discussion can be a wise move. This isn’t about walking away from the problem but rather giving yourself space to calm down and reflect so you can address the problem more effectively. When you come back to the conversation, you’ll have a better chance of it being productive.

2. Make a plan

Disagreements often escalate when we talk without thinking. And most of the time, we don’t know in advance when an argument is going to happen. But if you’re planning to approach your partner about an issue, and you know it’s a touchy subject, take the time to reflect on what you want to say in advance. Jot down your thoughts if it helps. This will give you a chance to clarify your feelings, goals, and the points you want to get across before you’re in an emotionally charged situation. When you actually have the conversation, you can have a clear ask, you can stay on topic, and you can choose your words.

3. Stop mind-reading

A common pitfall during arguments is jumping to conclusions about what your partner is thinking or feeling. Making these kinds of assumptions can lead to misunderstandings and can send the conversation right off the tracks. So if you find yourself trying to read between the lines, pause and ask for clarification. Encourage your partner to express their thoughts and feelings openly and honestly and commit to doing the same.

4. Learn how to calm yourself down

When you get super upset about something, your heart may start racing, you could feel hot, you might start sweating. Calming your body can help you calm your mind. During a time out, try to do something soothing. Take a walk, listen to music, practice deep breathing, smell your favorite candle, take a shower—whatever helps your heart rate slow back down and your blood pressure return to normal. Being better regulated can help you approach the discussion from a place of balance instead of chaos.

5. Know when to zip your lip

In the heat of an argument, it can be tempting to let that perfect, biting comeback come flying out. Saying tese zingers may feel satisfying in the moment—it may even make you feel like you’ve “won” the argument. But instead, you’ve probably just escalated the conflict and been mean to someone you love. Sharp retorts are not going to bring you closer to common understanding and resolution.

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