10 Tips for Fighting Fair

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She’s screaming. You’re screaming. It’s gone on so long that neither of you remembers how the hell it even started. “Stop fighting to the death just to be right,” says Sharon Rivkin, a marital and family therapist in Santa Rosa, California and author of Breaking the Argument Cycle. There’s a way better way to firmly make your points without going multiple rounds, and a few simple tactics can soften the blows, turning a messy fight around in a matter of minutes. Take this advice, and you may even get to fast-forward straight to make-up sex! (You’re welcome.)

Stop Saying “You, You, You…”

Scale back the verbal punches by avoiding attack phrases like “you always…,” “you don’t…,” “you never…”—she’ll feel like you’re trying to shame and blame her. Instead, swap the “you” for an “I,” or a “we.” Say “I feel like…” or “I get frustrated when…” “This works because you can’t be faulted for your feelings and you avoid coming off as accusatory,” says Yvonne K. Fulbright, PhD, sex educator and author of Sultry Sex Talk to Seduce Any Lover.

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Talk In Turns

As much as it’s tempting to interrupt her when she says something wacky, reel it in and let her have her say before you respond. “When we don’t get heard, we dig our feet in and argue to win,” Rivkin says. One of the most effective things you can say during a standoff is, “I want to hear what you have to say.” Tell her you hope you can come to some sort of agreement and work it out. Once she knows that you’re open to a compromise, she’ll start to soften her tone and listen more closely to what you say. Now you’re getting somewhere.

Plus: 10 Ways to Get Your Ex Back

Avoid A Repeat

Feel like you’re pressing the replay button each time you argue? It’s time to try a new strategy. “Once you get on the fighting track, your brain kicks in and starts repeating itself,” says Rivkin. So say something new to mix it up and surprise her. Try, “You seem to feel strongly about this,” or “I want to hear your opinion even if we disagree,” recommends Bernstein. “These phrases are effective because they validate her feelings.” Just make sure you say it in a respectful, genuine way. Mocking her will only amp-up the anger.

Plus: 5 Ways to Clinch the Third Date

Read the rest of the tips on Men’s Fitness.