Conflict Resolution: How to Fix a Fight in a Relationship

communication advice san diego

Steps on How to Repair and Pick Up After a Fight

Let’s face it: in the heat of an argument you can say things that are hurtful, passive aggressive, or downright untrue. So can your partner. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it IS possible to pick up after a big blow out and repair your relationship, restoring it to a healthy place.

One of the key ingredients to a secure and solid relationship is how you repair after a fight.  It may take some time and both partners must be willing to make an honest effort to fix a fight. If you have recently been in an argument with your partner, here are some of my top tips for reconnecting and healing any hurts that have been caused.

Conflict Resolution #1: Take Time to Cool Down

Emotions rise during an argument. In order to repair, sometimes a cooling off period is the best way to start. Don’t just leave your house, however. Tell your partner “I need some time to cool off. I am going to go for a walk and I’ll be back in 15 minutes.” This reassures your partner that you will return and are leaving to cool your head, not because you are abandoning him/her. By taking a few minutes apart, you can step out of any negative cycles that are happening in the argument. You can also use this time to reflect on your partner’s point of view.

Conflict Resolution #2: Address The Issue and Own Your Part

Once you have cooled down, whether for a few minutes, hours, or even a day, it is time to talk to your partner about the argument. This might seem like rehashing, but to repair your relationship and rebuild a secure attachment it is vital to address the issues that came up and how you both reacted. Remember to own your part in the argument and don’t be “the victim,” blaming your partner for the entire thing won’t fix a fight.

Conflict Resolution #3: Be Constructive

Use language like, “When you didn’t call to say you were late, I reacted strongly because…” instead of “You’re always late and it’s rude.” This helps your partner understand that a) you acknowledge your role in the disagreement and b) there were underlying reasons for your reaction. It can open your partner’s mind to your perspective instead of making him defensive or feel like he is “on the hot seat” in the aftermath of the fight.

Conflict Resolution #4: Offer Sincere Apologiesfix a fight

Did you know that most of the way people react to you is based on body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions? Make sure that you are sincere when you offer apologies. If your partner gets from your body language that you are just apologizing to make the fight go away, it may actually lead to another argument. Repair the relationship with a sincere apology.

Communication Tip #5: Create A Prevention Plan

Talk with your partner about the next steps to prevent the issue from happening again. This could be agreeing to adopt some different behaviors, such as always texting when you are running late, or bigger steps – like counseling. Create a prevention plan on how you both can avoid going down this path in the future.  When there are big traumas in your past or in the relationship, sometimes a counselor can help you fully repair damage from your arguments and learn new patterns for a healthier dynamic moving forward.

About Jennine Estes, MFT

Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653