“Hey, slow down. You are driving way too fast!”
“I know how to drive and don’t need to be told what to do. When was the last time I got a ticket?”
“That’s not the point! I don’t want to die today. I need a manicure, and clean underwear!”
The couple laughs and the tension disappears. Russ slows down a little and Rachel relaxes.
What just happened to this couple has to do with why relationships make it or break it. Russ and Rachel know how to repair a tense moment of conflict.
Their success involved two things: 1) They trust each other and despite their disagreements, know they have each other’s back.
2) They know how to deescalate conflict when it comes to a boiling point. Just when Russ was starting to feel annoyed and angry, Rachel cracked a joke. Humor was a way of repairing the moment. Rachel’s humor lowered the heat, making them both laugh and relax.
When one partner makes a positive effort to reduce physiological reactions in the other, conflict settles down. This happens several ways between healthy couples.
Here are a few of those ways:
1) Use humor to break the tension.
2) Acknowledge that some part of what your partner says may be true.
3) Express some affection, a word of caring during an argument. It can even be a distracting comment like, “Your hair sure looks good today.”
4) Agree to one point of positive change.
5) Tell your partner you see his or her point (show empathy) of view.
Next time, the heat of an argument rises, try one of these tips to lower the tension.