The Pause That Saves A Relationship


The Pause That Saves A Relationship
A piece of advice that can forever transform a destructive fighting style.

Two boxers circling one another in the ring thirsting for blood, each consumed with finding and attacking what they sense is their opponent’s Achilles' heel.

If this resembles you and your partner when you fight minus the ring and boxing gloves, then Houston, we’ve got a problem. An argument between lovers should not be about proving one is right and the other wrong. This is not the fight of the century. You are not (hopefully) looking to deliver the knockout punch. Your dispute concerns a specific issue; both parties should be left standing and after a cooling off period back to the good stuff.


But in the heat of the moment all you can focus on is that you’re upset. This person who is supposed to cherish you is doing the opposite and hurting you with his/her stubbornness, inconsiderateness, poor judgment, etc. Flush with such a riot of emotions, words can fly out of your mouth that you want to take back the moment they’re airborne. Words that have nothing to do with the issue at hand, but concern past wrongs and imagined slights. Words that zero in on your partner’s insecurities.

Your job is to avoid uttering phrases like, "You’re totally right. Your mother does like your sister best." Or, "No wonder you never got that promotion. You’re too timid." Take a deep, relaxing, cleansing breath and ask yourself if you really need to deliver this low blow. Do you really want to see pain in your beloved’s eyes and know you caused it? Can’t you keep the fight centered on whose turn it is to pick the movie?

Still fuming, but the pause was the sanity break you needed to know, it’s not a wise move to go for the jugular? Say, "I’m too angry now to continue this. Let me take a little walk (listen to some music, etc.) and we can talk about it later."

Fair fighting is similar to the diet maxim: A minute on the lips; forever on the hips.

More couples advice from YourTango:

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW


Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW

Therapist, Relationship Author

Sherry Amatenstein, LSCW is a NYC-based therapist, the author of The Q & A DATING BOOK: Answers to the thorniest, sexiest, and most intimate and revealing questions about love, sex, and romantic relationships; LOVE LESSONS FROM BAD BREAKUPS: Discover how to make relationships last - by learning from the ones that didn't; and THE COMPLETE MARRIAGE COUNSELOR: Relationship-Saving Advice from America's Top 50+ Couples Therapists.

She is regularly called upon to give advice on ticklish relationship issues on national talk shows. Check out her website for 64 free tips that can save your relationship.


Location: Long Island City, NY
Credentials: LCSW
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