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How to keep your cool during an argument with your partner

Disagreements are an inevitable part of any healthy relationship, but how we handle them can strengthen our union or lead to its dissolution. When emotions run high, our judgment can be clouded and lead us to say things we later regret. Keeping cool in these moments isn’t just about self-control; it’s about intentionally creating a space for healthy communication that fosters understanding and closeness. Here are some important strategies to keep you calm, cool, and collected during difficult conversations.

1. Embrace the power of a time out

When you’re discussing a difficult topic, and you start to feel overwhelmed by your emotions—whether you’re sad, angry, anxious, or something else—taking a break from the discussion can be a smart move. It’s not about walking away from the problem but rather giving yourself space to calm down and reflect so you can address the problem more effectively. When you return to the conversation, you have a greater chance of making it productive.

2. Make a plan

Disagreements often get worse when we talk without thinking. And usually, we don’t know in advance when a dispute will occur. But if you’re planning to approach your partner about an issue, and you know it’s a touchy subject, take the time to think about what you want to say ahead of time. Write your thoughts if it helps. This will give you a chance to clarify your feelings, goals, and points you want to get across before you get into an emotional situation. When you actually have a conversation, you can ask clear questions, you can stay on topic, and you can choose your words.

3. Stop reading minds

A common pitfall during arguments is jumping to conclusions about what your partner is thinking or feeling. Making these types of assumptions can lead to misunderstandings and can send the conversation off track. So if you find yourself trying to read between the lines, pause and ask for clarification. Encourage your partner to express their thoughts and feelings openly and honestly and commit to doing the same.

4. Learn how to calm yourself down

When you get really upset about something, your heart might start racing, you might get hot, you might start sweating. Calming your body will help you calm your mind. During a time out, try to do something relaxing. Take a walk, listen to music, practice deep breathing, smell your favorite candle, take a bath—whatever helps your heart slow down and your blood pressure return to normal. Being better regulated will help you approach the discussion from a place of balance rather than chaos.

5. Know when to zip your lip

In the heat of an argument, it can be tempting to let that perfect, painful comeback fly. Saying these zingers can be fun in the moment—you might feel like you’ve “won” the argument. But instead, you’ve probably just escalated the conflict and been mean to the person you love. Answering sharply will not bring you closer to common understanding and resolution.

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