You’ve had the big argument. The big disagreement. The difficult discussion about that thing you just can’t seem to agree on. A fight, a row, a confrontation.

It happens to every couple. Eventually you get into an argument and regret losing your temper or saying something you didn’t mean in the heat of the moment. But fighting is divisive in marriage, which is why we’ve put together some guidelines to help couples reconnect after an argument. Disagreeing is completely normal and expected; you’re two different people after all. What’s not okay is arguing to the point that one or both of you start to feel resentment. Continue reading our guide to reconnect with your husband or spouse right after a tiff so that you can start building the safety net you both crave.

While conflict is to be expected from time to time in any marriage, it can still be very painful for both of you. To help you and your spouse come back to each other after an argument, here’s a quick checklist to keep in mind: rest, repair, regroup.

1. Hit pause (and make the brief break count)

It’s hard to problem solve and collaborate when you’re flustered and angry with your spouse, and this kind of highly charged emotional state can lead you to say or do things that are hurtful (and make it difficult to accurately express your needs).To mitigate potential damage from emotional reactivity, honor the “time out” call. As it generally takes less than an hour for a person’s nervous system to cool down after a fight-or-flight stress response, anywhere from 30 minutes to about an hour should be enough time for you both hit the pause button and regroup. Waiting too long runs the risk of brushing everything under the rug, which is unwise if you’re hoping to have a long healthy relationship.

During your short break from each other in the wake of an argument, do something that requires some amount of focus (to prevent you from simply ruminating about the fight) but isn’t overly stimulating (like scrolling on social media). Playing an instrument, journaling, listening to a guided meditation, going for a brisk walk, or doing a crossword puzzle are some good examples. Eat something if you’re hungry, but hold off on the cocktail until later.
The goal is to spend a little (but not too much) time apart to soothe yourselves and let your heart rates return to normal before coming back to address the argument.

2. Take ownership

Once you’re ready to come back together, make it a game and see who can take the most responsibility for their part in the argument. (That’s only partly a joke.)
Be willing to concede that there are things you did or said that contributed to the situation. If your partner deserves an apology, offer it to them. Be genuine. Be gentle with each other and careful with your raw emotions. Keep a small light burning in the back of your mind to remind you that you’re in this as a team, that marriage is a gift, and that it’s worth fighting for (no pun intended).

3. Look under the hood of the argument before moving on

You’ve taken some time apart (rest) and you’ve come back together to make amends (repair), honoring each other’s humility and humanness. Now it’s time to debrief (regroup) before putting the argument behind you.
Was there something you needed that you weren’t clearly communicating with your spouse? Were you projecting onto your spouse some frustration from elsewhere in your day? Was this argument about a major issue that warrants further guidance from a marriage counselor?

Even if it’s just a short conversation, use this final step to understand where each of you were coming from, what problems need to be solved, and what misunderstandings need to be rectified.

Are You Ready to Take Your Marriage to the Next Level?

At The Marriage Restoration Project, we help couples from all backgrounds strengthen their bond and deepen their intimacy so that even the most uncertain waters can be navigated together safely with one another. Contact us today to ask about our immersive marriage counseling retreats using Imago Relationship Therapy or book a free 30 minute consultation call with Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin.

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Jennifer Long

Jennifer Long is a writer, author, and multiple hat wearer with experience across many different industries.