How do I manage arguments with my partner?

It’s normal to disagree with your partner from time to time. If you’re having lots of difficult conversations, you might need to think about how you manage these.

Consider what either of you could be doing that might be creating tension. If you can, work with your partner to decide how you approach tricky topics. Keep in mind how any arguments might affect your children.

Couple not speaking after an argument

Set some ground rules

If you can, talk to your partner when you’re both feeling calm and set some ground rules.

  • Agree to stay open-minded and listen to each other’s views. Find compromises where you can.
  • Speak to each other with respect, and avoid shouting.
  • Try not to argue in front of your child or children.
  • Decide at what point you’ll call time on an argument to take a breather. If things often get out of hand, work out what tends to make arguments worse.

Think about what helps you

Think about what helps you feel able to deal with arguments with your partner. Some ideas could include:

  • Pay attention to your body language. Is it making you feel more stressed or anxious? Could it appear as aggressive to the other person?
  • Be mindful of your breathing. Try to breath slower and deeper than you normally would and your body will feel the calming effects of this.
  • Humour can help defuse an argument. If appropriate, find a funny moment to bring down the intensity of the emotions you’re feeling.
  • Get outside support if you need it. Counselling can sometimes help. Relate offers counselling by phone, video or online chat.
  • Stick to one issue at a time and try not to bring up old disagreements.
  • Have the argument then draw a line under it and forget it. Agree to start the next day fresh – don’t go back to old fights.
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