Healthy communication habits are important for making a relationship work, and that includes communication during fights. It might even be EXTRA important to use healthy communication habits when you’re fighting, because fights are difficult enough without allowing the fight itself to damage the relationship. Hurtful things said during a fight can hurt the relationship long after the fight is over. Below are three common communication mistakes, and how to avoid them.
Mistake: Telling your partner “You’re overreacting” or “You’re being crazy”.
Why it’s bad: Your partner’s feelings are as real to them as your feelings are to you. When they open up to you, they are trusting you and putting themselves in a vulnerable position. Implying that their emotions or concerns are a figment of their imagination could be very hurtful to them, and could also discourage them from being honest with you about their feelings, which is very unhealthy for a relationship. Don’t shame them for opening up to you.
What to do instead: Say “Help me understand why this is so important to you.” Respecting your partner means respecting their emotional needs, even at times when their feelings don’t immediately make sense to you. Work to see the situation from their perspective and to understand that there’s a reason why they feel the way they do.
Mistake: Turning off your phone, blocking your partner on social media, or storming out for a long period with no explanation.
Why it’s bad: During a fight, the relationship is vulnerable. Feelings are hurt, emotions are running high. Shutting out your partner completely, even temporarily, can make them feel abandoned. Doing that to your partner intentionally is a cruel and manipulative power play. Doing it unintentionally is immature, selfish, and inconsiderate. Both of those options are unhealthy for a relationship.
What to do instead: Tell your partner that you need a moment to clear your head, then set your phone aside or step out for a walk and take a short break. You’ll have a chance to calm down, but you won’t be tormenting your partner. It requires more self control, but your relationship will thank you.
Mistake: Name calling.
Why it’s bad: It’s hard to come back from once the fight is over. It’s one thing to express anger at your partner during a fight; it’s another thing to insult them as a person. Name calling cuts deep, and your partner may remember the names you called them long after they can remember what the fight was even about. Using insults crosses a line. Your significant other is not someone you should fight dirty with.
What to do instead: Restrain yourself. Focus on what your partner has done to upset you, rather than attacking them on a personal level. Remember that even though you’re angry with them and they aren’t perfect, they are a person who you respect and care about. Don’t do anything in anger that you can’t undo later.
Thanks for reading!