Fight fire with fire.
Take a moment to reflect on the way you and your partner (past or present) argue. Do you both yell? Are you both more likely to storm away to cool off before hashing it out calmly? Or does one of you want to talk while the other wants to brood in silence?
According to research, couples are less likely to divorce if they approach arguments with a similar fighting style. Couples who fight differently are more likely to split. A University of Michigan study shows this correlation between mismatched argument styles and divorce.
The study "is the largest and longest research projects to date, looking at the patterns of marital conflict in 373 couples over a 16-year period, starting the first year of their marriages." In aggravated situations, spouses were either constructive or destructive, and either opted to talk about the conflict or to withdraw.
"[Withdrawing] seems to have a damaging effect on the longevity of marriage," said researcher Kira Birditt. "Spouses who deal with conflicts constructively may view their partners' habit of withdrawing as a lack of investment in the relationship rather than an attempt to cool down."
Of the 373 couples studied, 46 percent of them divorced.
Researchers found that "husbands reported more constructive behaviors and fewer destructive behaviors than wives. But over time, wives were less likely to use destructive strategies or withdraw, while husbands' use of these behaviors stayed the same through the years."
In other words, the way a woman argues tends to evolve, while a man's fighting style is likely to remain static.
But if this is you and your spouse, don't panic. Once you realize how unhealthy destructive behavior can be, you can change.
A partnership lasts when the two of you communicate, and no one is saying that communication has to happen right away. If one of you needs to retreat, maybe the other partner can learn to do the same before you reconvene and hash out what started your fight in the first place.