Family Relationships

Couple Confrontation: How to Row Right

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Confrontation is something every couple experiences at some point in their relationship. Familiarity can breed contempt, and stress, tiredness, or simply a bad day can lead to cross words.

But just because things become heated, it doesn’t mean it has to end in a full blown confrontation. There is a right way to argue that can stop you crossing a point of no return.

Confrontation isn’t always a bad thing

Well, it’s not. It’s important to be able to have it out with your partner. Zero dialogue may seem like a solution. But in the long run it will build up to something bigger. So rather than avoiding a confrontation, approach the topic calmly. Sticking your head in the sand doesn’t make you a peacekeeper. It makes you an ostrich.

Nice and Cool


It’s easy for things to escalate in an argument. Especially when you go into it guns blazing. Have a cooling off period before you discuss the issue. If emotions are running high during an argument, take a time out.

Laying down ground rules in these situations can be really helpful. That way you both know what’s acceptable and no one oversteps their boundaries.


Everyone wants to be heard. This doesn’t mean nodding away, whist you mentally rehearse a closing argument, or figure out what time the game starts. Listening means you can respond and have a productive conversation. You can turn an argument into a learning opportunity and strengthen your relationship.

Don’t fight dirty

No confrontation was ever made better by fighting dirty. Emotions can run high when you’re talking about your feelings. But that’s no excuse for insults, name calling or being hurtful. As much as you may feel this is the right time to tell her that you despise her cooking, it’s not. Petty victories are short lived. So keep it clean and make sure you both take a time out if things are getting too heated.

It’s not about winning



You may be in the right. But is it worth carrying on an argument just to prove it? You can go round in circles trying to pin blame, but winning isn’t everything. It can also distract you from what’s actually happening. Saying sorry is the first step towards calming down and reaching a resolution.

Of course if you’re always the first one to apologise, or the only one listening that isn’t fair. Relationships shouldn’t be one- sided, and there may be more deeper issues than the current argument argument.

The Bigger Picture

At the end of the day, you’re a team.  Couples that remember this are mindful of what they say and carful not to cause lasting damage. You may not always see eye to eye, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t love and support each other. Remember there is no I in T-E-A-M.