Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus author John Gray would love it if all relationships were a bed of roses. “Imagine a land of brilliant sunrises and sunsets where there were no misunderstandings or hurt feelings, no sideways glares, no slammed doors, and no arguing,” Gray says. “As much as any couple may avoid fighting, the truth is, one minute you may feel great passion, and the next you’re contemplating divorce.”
Many times, we think arguments occur because our partner’s behavior needs an overhaul. “Funny thing though, it’s usually not about them.”
The renowned relationship author suggests these six steps to leave a fight in the dust and get back on the road to lasting romance.
1. Take the edge off—get a little space: The best way to stop an argument is to nip it in the bud. Men, in particular, need to cool off and think things through. Women need to make sure that they are not bringing a ‘cold-front’ to the negotiating table. This is a good time to reflect on how you usually approach your partner. Take a step back and think about how much you love this person. Also, focus on your own needs and take some self-healing time.
2. Ease into it after some downtime: Approach each other slowly and softly after some downtime. Wait until you can feel positively about your partner and the relationship, as it’s impossible to work things out when negative emotions are still on the surface. If your anger, hurt or frustration is still overwhelming, take it as a sign that you are not ready to jump into solution-making. It’s too easy to blow things out of proportion unless you take a step back and ease in to the resolution slowly.
3. Nothing too serious: After some time has passed, come back and talk again, but in a loving and respectful way. Fueling the argument is not your goal. Take it easy, and keep the conversation light, because even though some time has passed, you still may not be able to be objective right away. Simple gestures like a smile, holding hands or getting your partner to laugh at something silly and unrelated to the situation can be good icebreakers.
4. Women need to talk: Women often need to completely talk the problem through before they are able to stand aside and put it behind them. Men can mistakenly feel blamed and attacked when a woman works through her problems by talking, so it’s a good idea for her to reassure him. By letting him know how much he is supporting her by listening, she will free him from feeling unappreciated or attacked as she rehashes the details of the upset.
5. Men need to be forgiven: After a big blow-up, men simply need to be told that they are forgiven. The four magic words to support a man in getting over hurt or angry feelings are “it’s not your fault.” A man hates to feel criticized, or that his partner disapproves of him. When a woman forgives her partner for his mistakes, she not only frees him to love again but also gives herself permission to forgive her own imperfections.
6. Both parties need to take personal responsibility: Couples can’t point fingers after an argument and expect things to get better. Both men and women have to acknowledge their own shortcomings and take responsibility in order to move on and improve communication. Men have to let go of being righteous, demanding and overly sensitive, while women have an opportunity to apply new and improved relationship skills to assure him that he is appreciated and that she does not blame him for the fight.
Learning to communicate with each other through stormy times is essential to the success of a long-lasting relationship. While the best advice we have for couples is to avoid arguments, the stresses of ordinary life can get in the way of even the happiest Martian and Venusian collaboration. Again, forgiveness really is key for both sides. None of us will ever find a mate who is perfect all of the time; however, we can be the best for the one who is most perfect for us.
Jessica Krampe is the digital managing editor for SUCCESS.com. A graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, Jessica has worked for news, entertainment, business and lifestyle publications. Outside of the daily grind, she enjoys happy hours, live music and traveling.