How To End Fights With This One Simple Phrase

This key phrase can end or de-escalate most fights.

Woman taking her part of the blame Nicolas Menijes,  photobyphotoboy | Canva 

Many times people say that their partner starts a lot of fights with them, fights that go on for hours. If you think about it, though, there is no way for one person to fight alone for minutes, never mind hours. People who think that they are the hapless victim of an argumentative partner generally do not recognize their own contribution to the fighting.

Generally, couples who fight are locked into a dynamic where one is aggressive and one is passive-aggressive. The passive-aggressive partner acts like a victim, but in reality, is as dismissive and stubborn as the more flagrantly "difficult" partner.


This will give you a key phrase that can end or de-escalate most fights, and if you find it hard to say, I discuss what that means you have to work on.

Most conflict arises because partners feel dismissed by each other.

Generally, the partner with the more openly aggressive style will say things like, "That’s stupid" or "I can’t believe you would think that," while the more passive-aggressive partner may go silent or use weaponized confusion. Neither partner is validating the other’s perspective, which is why the fight starts. Both partners are focusing only on their own viewpoints, and neither is showing much empathy at all.


In this podcast, I discuss two magic words to make conversations go better, and the phrase I am recommending you practice with your partner is not much different.

RELATED: 8 Ways To Resolve Conflict In Your Relationship When You're Sick And Tired Of Fighting

When things start getting heated, try saying "I can see your point." 

If you are someone who struggles with this idea, protesting, "But I can’t see their point! Their point doesn’t make sense!" then it is likely that you need to work on your own perspective-taking and empathy skills. 

When people struggle with empathy or validation, it is almost definite that they did not receive much of either when growing up. Instead, they were raised in homes where there was only one "right" way to think and feel, and anything else received parental disapproval or even mockery.


If you struggle with saying "I can see your point" because you are terrified that if you admit that you can understand their perspective, your partner will force you to agree to a behavior or decision, you can rest assured that they will in fact feel far better about you and be much more willing to be flexible if they feel heard and understood.

For example, here is how a wife might interact with her husband when she is scared of ceding any ground to him:

Mary: You have to call me when you’ll be late getting home! It’s so rude.

John: I’m sorry, my boss was talking to me and I couldn’t figure out how to interrupt him to do that.

Mary: Well, I’m sure there was a way and you have to do it!


John: Look, why are you being so rigid about this? My job keeps food on the table.

And so forth. John is obviously less likely to call in the future because he feels that Mary doesn’t understand his position or that his intentions weren’t to hurt her.

RELATED: The 6 Types Of (Healthy) Fights Every Long-Lasting Relationship Must Have To Survive

Now let’s see what it would look like using my key phrase:

Mary: You have to call me when you’ll be late getting home! It’s so rude.

John: I’m sorry, my boss was talking to me and I couldn’t figure out how to interrupt him to do that.

Mary: I can see your point. But look, can you try to find a way in the future?


John: Okay, I can try. I can’t always promise it will happen but I will try harder.

That is a much more validating interaction for both partners, and the reality is that John feels better about his marriage when Mary can understand that it was stressful for him to have his boss talking to him right when he knew she expected a text, and Mary feels better with John’s response that he will try to do better versus him getting more defensive and not even saying he will try.

On John’s end, he is likelier to try to do better if he thinks that Mary can be flexible, but if he thinks she is rigid about needing a text by exactly X time, and he doesn’t know if he can do that 100% of the time, then he will commit to nothing. This isn’t to hurt her, but because he fears that she will yell at him even more if he doesn’t do exactly what she wants (which he doesn’t feel he can do, and doesn’t feel motivated to want to do after this fight).


RELATED: 9 Key Rules For Fighting With Your Husband

When your partner (or your child, for that matter) feels like you are trying to understand their perspective, this quickly turns down the intensity of arguments.

You are basically communicating that the relationship is more important than this fight and that you respect your partner’s intelligence and judgment, even if you yourself have a different view. Try this phrase the next time you get into an argument, and you may be surprised at how it dials down the level of conflict immediately.

RELATED: How Much Fighting Is Normal In A Relationship And How Much Is Too Much

Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of DrPsychMom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.