A 5-Minute Fix That Halts Arguments And Heals Relationships

A psychotherapist recommended technique for arguing — rooted in principles of attachment theory and neuroscience.

couple arguing  fotostorm / Getty Images Signature 

Conflicts in relationships are an inevitable part of the journey. Whether you're in a romantic partnership, a friendship, or even dealing with family dynamics — disagreements and misunderstandings can arise, often testing the bonds that tie us together.

Recognizing the importance of effective communication and conflict resolution, psychotherapist Stan Tatkin has pioneered a transformative approach known as the "5-Minute Argument Technique." This simple technique could save your relationship.


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What Is The 5-Minte Argument?

The "5-Minute Argument"  is a therapeutic technique developed by Dr. Stan Tatkin. This technique is designed to help couples improve their communication and conflict-resolution skills.


The 5-Minute Argument Technique is rooted in principles of attachment theory and neuroscience, emphasizing the importance of emotional safety and secure attachment in relationships. Providing a structured way for couples to communicate and connect can help prevent small issues from escalating into major conflicts and foster a healthier and more secure relationship dynamic.

Why is the 5-Minute Argument so effective?



Dr. Tatkin reports that he often hears his clients say, "Well, I don't think we can solve that in five minutes," after proposing they try the skill. This demonstrates one of the core elements of the practice.

The key to this technique is addressing conflicts when they are still small and manageable. Waiting until issues escalate into major arguments can make resolution much more difficult.

Agreement to Engage

However, even if you can't address it in 5 minutes, that still gives you a time limit to stay in the argumentative state and then "tie it off like a tourniquet."

Dr. Tatkin says, "It's not all in one chunk, because then you choke on it. But in small bites, you hit it, get out, you hit and get out. That's a skillful way of dealing with anything."


Both partners agree to engage in the conversation for a set period, usually 5 minutes. This agreement sets the stage for a focused and time-limited discussion.

Eye Contact and Physical Contact

During the 5-minute conversation, couples are encouraged to maintain eye contact and physical contact. This can help increase feelings of safety and connection.

Listening Actively

Each partner takes turns speaking, and the other partner listens actively without interruption. 

Listening actively means paying full attention to what the other person is saying, without formulating a response or interrupting.

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Validation and Empathy For Both People


After one partner has expressed their perspective, the other partner validates their feelings and experiences. Validation involves acknowledging that their feelings are valid and understandable, even if you don't necessarily agree with their point of view. 

After the first partner has had their 5 minutes, you switch roles. The second partner gets 5 minutes to express their perspective, while the first partner listens actively, validates, and shows empathy.

What's the next step after a 5-Minute Argument?



If there is an issue that needs resolution, this can be addressed in a separate conversation. The 5-minute Argument Technique is primarily focused on allowing each partner to be heard and understood, which can create a foundation for more effective problem-solving later.

Ending Positively

Regardless of whether the issue is fully resolved, the 5-minute conversation should end on a positive note. Expressing gratitude or affection toward each other can help reinforce the sense of connection.

Although this technique is a valuable tool, it may not work for all couples or all situations. Some issues may require more extensive discussion and problem-solving. Couples facing chronic or severe relationship problems may benefit from seeking the guidance of a qualified therapist or counselor.


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Deauna Roane is an associate editor for YourTango who covers pop culture, lifestyle, astrology, and relationship topics. She's had bylines in Emerson College's literary magazine, Generic, and MSN.