The Pause That Can Save A Relationship

Take a breather — it may make all the difference.

Couple looking away from each other Syda Productions, YASNARADA | Canva 

Two boxers circling one another in the ring thirsting for blood, each fighter 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.

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An argument between lovers should not be about proving that 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 or 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.


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Words that zero in on your partner’s insecurities. Your job is to avoid uttering phrases like, "You are right. Your mother does like your sister best." Or, "No wonder you never got that promotion. You are too timid."  Take a deep, relaxing, cleansing breath, and ask yourself if you need to deliver this low blow. Do you 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?

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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.

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Sherry Amatenstein is a relationship writer and the author of Q and A Dating Book: Love Lessons from Bad Breakups and The Complete Marriage Counselor: Advice from America's Top 50 + Couples Therapists.