Getty | Katie Buckleitner
Whether it’s a smol silly fight that sprung up in the moment, or a brewing conflict that’s finally come to a head after what seems like MONTHS, fighting with your S.O. can be a huge source of stress, even after you’ve aired your grievances. As great as it might feel to say everything on your mind, it’s always awk trying to get back to baseline after that.
Here are some expert-approved tips on how to best recover after a fight.
Things you can do alone:
1. Calm yourself down.
If you can’t regulate your nervous system, you won’t be able to effectively resolve any issues or conflicts while you’re still feeling on edge, explains Elizabeth Clair de Lune, a love, relationship, and sexuality coach. Moving around and dancing are great options for quite literally ~shaking~ it off. If you’re looking for a more centering physical activity, try some deep belly breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
2. Reflect while alone.
Acknowledge your gut feelings without trying to change anything in that moment. Are you upset or afraid right now? Are you pissed as hell or feeling insecure? Allow yourself to feel those emotions and really acknowledge them.
3. Journal or jot down some triggers or phrases that you said that could’ve potentially upset your partner.
Once you’re able to own the reality that it takes two to fight, you’ll be able to have a productive conversation with your partner where you can lower your defenses, says Christie Tcharkhoutian, LMFT.
Things you can do together:
1. Be honest about when you’re ready to talk again.
Simply ask your partner, “Are you ready to talk or do you need more time?” suggests Tcharkhoutian. No one’s cooling-off time is the same across the board, and being able to revisit the conversation without any pressure from each other is key. “A good relationship is one between two forgivers,” she also adds. If you want a script for what to say in case your partner isn’t ready to talk yet, you can say something like, “I definitely want to give you the space you need, when do you think would be a good time to check in again?”
2. When you’re ready to talk to your partner again, remember to use “I-statements.”
Like, “I feel [this way],” or “I think [this thing]”. You want to avoid blaming them, but also take responsibility for your own feelings, de Lune explains. Using “I-statements” also helps zoom in on your feelings as the speaker about any behaviors or conflict without focusing on the listener’s behavior, explains Aaliyah Nurideen, MSW, LSW.
3. Listen to your partner’s statements, without trying to “fix” anything in that second.
It’s more about understanding them in that moment, which will eventually bring a resolution, rather than jumping to a resolution, adds de Lune. Accept how your partner is feeling without minimizing their thoughts, just as you’d want them to listen to you with the same intention.
4. Look for moments of lightheartedness or humor where you can.
After a fight, you need to de-escalate things and calm down together, which is done most easily when you introduce moments of relief into your arguments, says Gabrielle Usatynski, MA, LPC. If you can sense yourself cracking a joke or smiling over the ridiculousness of how pent up you are, go for it. “This could mean using humor, warmth, or appreciation even when fighting,” adds Usatynski. You could say something like, “God, I’m so pissed off right now, but you also look so hot today that it’s frustrating!” At some point, you’ll need to wave the flag of friendliness during your fights to avoid it going further, says Usatynski.