5 Tips For Staying Calm During A Heated Argument With Your Spouse

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sad woman with upset man

It's important to know how to stay calm when you're in a heated fight with your spouse.

How many of you have been in a knock-down, drag-out fight with your spouse that got you absolutely nowhere? The kind where both of you are yelling and screaming and throwing out accusations and blame. 

How productive do you find those fights? Not at all, probably.

Luckily, there are ways to stay calm. Knowing what they are and putting them into action will help your arguments be more productive. 

Hopefully, these skills will prevent you and your partner from hashing out the same arguments over and over and over.

RELATED: 10 Most Common Need-To-Win Fighting Styles That Destroy Relationships

Here are 5 tips on how to stay calm during a heated fight with your spouse.

1. Deep breaths.

This seems like a cliché, but taking deep breaths is an essential part of managing any stressful situation.

When we're stressed out, our body goes into fight-or-flight mode. When that happens, our blood goes to our adrenal system and away from our brain. So, our ability to think clearly is clouded.

To counteract this cloudiness, take a deep breath. Taking a deep breath will bring some of that blood back to your brain, allowing you to think more clearly and to stay calm.

As an example, picture yourself on the highway, trying to pass a tractor-trailer. You're probably gripping onto the steering wheel for dear life, holding your breath as you do so.

I've discovered that if I take a deep breath as I pass, my heart stops pounding and I loosen the grip on the wheel and sail by the truck unscathed. Try it! You'll see what I mean.

So, as you work to stay calm during a heated fight with your spouse, remember to take deep breaths. It will make a huge difference.

2. Take 10.

A friend of mine once told me that before I react to something that someone has done to me, take two hours and see if it's still an issue.

If you find that it still is, talk to them about it. You'll also find yourself calmer than you might have been if you had gotten into it right away.

Sometimes, it’s impossible to take two hours before you address an issue with your spouse. But the key here is to take a step back to calm down and reassess.

Does the issue warrant a huge fight? What is your role in all of this? Will having a knock-down, drag-out really change anything, or would a conversation be more productive?

One time, I was furious at my step-father’s new girlfriend for throwing away my mom’s stuff. I reached for the phone to rip her a new one.

But then I told myself to pause, finish what I was doing, and see if I wanted to reach out.

Two hours later, I was able to craft a text message that addressed my issues briefly and succinctly.

I was able to walk away from the issue knowing that I had kept my calm and reminded her that she violated an existing agreement that she wouldn’t throw my mom’s things away.

So, take some time before you flip out. You'll be happy you did.

3. Don’t take things personally.

For many people, when they're having an argument with their spouse, they tend to take what their spouse is saying personally, as if their words were a personal attack on who they are as a person.

When we're attacked, we tend to go on the defensive and lose our cool. No one wants to be attacked as a person, after all.

I have a client who, every time she and her spouse got into something, she immediately reverted back to the idea that he blamed her for all their issues.

She believed that he was judging her for whatever happened, and that he thought her incapable of handling things.

As a result, their arguments would get out of control and were, therefore, completely unproductive.

When you're arguing with your spouse and your mind starts taking things personally, step back and see if that's what your partner is really saying.

Are they really blaming and judging you for what's happening, or are they frustrated and angry and sharing those feelings, but not making it all about you?

If you can recognize that what your partner is saying isn’t a personal attack, it will help you stay calm.

RELATED: 8 Essential Do's & Don'ts For Having Productive Arguments (And A Long, Happy Relationship)

4. Don’t hold onto soundbites.

You and your spouse are going at it and someone says something that's stupid and thoughtless.

Something that perhaps they didn’t mean, but they said it in the heat of the moment. Something that you zero in on as a weapon in the fight going forward.

Holding onto these things that are said in the heat of the moment will only cause you to spiral to a dark place.

In a fight with your spouse, you might say something like, "You always do this! You're a mama’s boy and always put her needs first!"

While you might mean this sentiment, that your husband prioritizes his mother over you, the fact that you called your spouse a "mama’s boy" could be something that your husband zeros in on to hold over your head during the argument.

So, instead of the fight being about his priorities and making attempts to make changes, it spirals into an argument about your horrible words around his relationship with his mother.

This will get you nowhere.

So, make an effort to let go of the sound bites. You probably didn’t truly mean that your husband was a "mama’s boy," but unless your partner can let those words go, the fight will devolve into being about them completely.

5. Don’t raise your voice.

Finally, an essential part of learning how to stay calm when fighting in a relationship is to work on not raising your voice.

When you yell, your body chemistry changes. Your emotional brain takes over, your stress reaction is stimulated, and your fight-or-flight instincts come rushing in.

And when this happens, all hell can break loose.

Instead of yelling, take deep breaths and step away so that you can regain your composure.

If you continue to yell, not only will your partner be in high-alert mode and be unable to hear your words, but they might shut down completely and go silent. Both of those things will get you nowhere.

If you can work hard to keep yourself from yelling, it will help your argument to not become a screaming mess where nothing gets worked out.

Knowing how to stay calm during a heated fight with your spouse is key to keeping the disagreements productive, so that they don’t have to happen again and again and again.

You must be eager to change this pattern of conflict in your marital spats. So, remember to take deep breaths so that you can think clearer. Step away for a moment — or an hour — to reassess.

Try not to take things personally and hold onto soundbites. And try really hard not to yell.

You can do this! You can make changes with awareness.

Now that you have it, you're ready to start making those disagreements productive and make real changes in your relationship.

RELATED: How To Fix A Relationship When One (Or Both) Of You Keeps Picking Fights

Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based certified life coach and mental health advocate. She works exclusively with women to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live. Contact her for help or send her an email.