Reaching out for a hug is just one of the simple ways to ease tension if you’re fighting with your partner.
They’re often the last things you feel like doing during an argument, but touching and laughing could be just what you and your partner need to reconnect.
Relationships expert Emma Power shares her top tips for bouncing back from conflict – and making your love stronger along the way.
1. Swallow your pride and reach out
Be the first to reach out and touch when you’re giving each other the silent treatment, says Emma, owner of Tantra Is Love.
“The whole dynamic changes instantly when one of you makes this move,” she says. “Touch will bring you both back into your body, pulling you out of the argument and giving new perspective.”
Touch the knee or shoulder of your partner, or wrap them up in a big bear hug.
“Deep down we want harmony, so when someone makes this move it’s often a relief that we can lay down our weapons,” Emma says.
2. Use humour to diffuse tension
Seek opportunities to bring light-hearted humour into the situation, jolting both sides out of a defensive frame of mind.
“It gives each party a chance to gain some perspective, putting the quarrel into a larger context,” Emma says.
“It can be particularly useful to use a private ‘in’ joke. However, ensure that you’re laughing with the other person, not at them.”
3. Show you understand
In conflict, the need to be understood is often what we are fighting for.
Emma says showing empathy is an ideal way to make amends.
“It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them, but at least they hear they’ve been understood,” she says.
“Simply saying something like ‘I totally understand why you would feel like that’ works wonders.”
4. Allow yourself – and your partner – to be vulnerable
Speaking from the heart can help bring down the walls and recreate intimacy.
“We are so busy fighting for our point of view that we lose perspective,” Emma says.
“When one party exposes their feelings it allows the other to more readily access warmth. “We’re reminded our partner is human, with insecurities and feelings, and the gap between us is lessened.”
5. Own your part in the conflict
Admitting fault is likely to move you both in a positive direction – and move you there a lot faster.
“It takes real strength to actually step away from that egoic drive and say, ‘I messed up’,” says Emma.
“I’m not saying you have to own all of it, but if you see an opportunity to say you were wrong the other person is more likely to do the same and the healing process can begin.”
6. Reflect and grow
A situation that initially seemed dire can become an opportunity for growth, says Emma.
“Finding the gold within the conflict involves being able to reflect and seek ways it can be used as an opportunity for both personal transformation and the evolution of the relationship,” she says.
“By asking ourselves, ‘What did we learn from this?’ and, ‘How can we grow from this?’ we reduce the likelihood of making the same mistakes again.”