How to Stop Fighting and Start Communicating with your Partner

GoodTherapy | How to Stop Fighting and Start Communicating with your Partner “Stop fighting with each other and start fighting for one another”– Staci Lee Schnell 

In a fight, there is a winner and a loser and most of us want to win.  So, if you are fighting with your spouse, and you are the winner, that would make them the loser.  Do you really want your partner to be a loser?  Wouldn’t it be better if your marriage was the winner?  If you stop fighting and start communicating with respect, you both win and more importantly, your marriage wins.  Communicating clearly and effectively with your spouse allows for a healthier and happier marriage.   

It’s perfectly okay and completely normal to have disagreements and different points of view from your partner.  Having different thoughts and ideas, shouldn’t be a cause for a fight but rather a cause for good conversations, where both of you are heard and validated.  Validation is essential in honoring your spouse’s different opinions.  But how can you validate them if you aren’t listening to them?  Active listening can alleviate interruptions, misunderstandings, and heated emotions as well as promote being in tune with your partner’s thoughts and feelings.  

 The following is a communication tool to try out that promotes active listening and validation: 

Step 1: Partner A is the speaker while Partner B is the listener.   Partner A speaks, without blame, their truth, point of view, or issue.  Partner B listens without interruption. Feel free to take notes. 

Step 2: Partner B says, “What I heard you say is…” and in their own words summarizes what they heard Partner A say.  Then Partner B says, “Did I get it right?”  Partner A answers “yes” or “no”.  If yes, Partner B says “Is there anything else?”  Partner A answers “Yes” or “No”. If no, it’s time for step 3.  If Partner A answers no to “Did I get it right?” they stay calm, they don’t get upset at their partner, they simply try saying it in a different way.  Partner B tries again with, “What I heard you say” and “Did I get it right?”  Don’t move on to step 3 until Partner B gets it right and Partner A has nothing else.  

Step 3: Partner B now validates Partner A.  If an apology is needed, this is the time.  This step is about making Partner A feel completely heard and understood.  It doesn’t mean that Partner B needs to agree with Partner A, it merely means that Partner B shows their understanding of Partner A.   

Step 4: Switch speaker and listener roles and repeat steps 2 and 3 in the new roles. 

Step 5: Now that each has been heard and validated, come up with a plan of action.  The next time this happens we are going to do this…, this is the decision, and compromise we are making…, we can agree to disagree. 

The above communication tool promotes active listening, which brings about a positive change in attitude towards each other. Instead of fighting, couples are communicating honestly and effectively with less defensiveness and anger.   Paraphrasing, summarizing, and clarifying allows for true validation.   

Validation communicates to your partner that the relationship is important, even if you do not agree with the issue or issues at hand.  Mutual validation is essential in a healthy and happy relationship because each feels heard, valued, and understood.  Feeling validated by your spouse can help one to feel appreciated, and loved and that their opinions are worthwhile.  

The timing of the above communication tool is truly important.  If one of you is feeling heated or flooded, take some time to calm down.  Take 10-20 minutes to reflect on your emotions and ask yourself some questions. Why am I upset? What am I trying to convey? What triggered me? How can I express myself clearly?  These questions will help you focus on what and how to say what has upset you, as well giving you the time you need to get calmer.   

Make sure to not sweep the event, issue, or topic under the rug and not discuss it.  Don’t hold back to avoid conflict. That will only promote resentment for the unresolved issue or issues. Resentment can make one feel that the relationship is in a constant ill state. After 10 or 20 minutes, come back together and use the above communication tool. If the circumstances don’t allow for the conversation to be had right away, put a pin in it and revisit it as soon as possible. If you want you can set an appointment with each other to have the needed discussion.   

Marriage Counseling can help couples clearly and effectively utilize the active listening and validation techniques described above. Couples Counseling helps to create a better understanding of each other, deepen emotional bonds, reestablish intimacy and trust, and overall improve your relationship and marriage.  


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