In part one of this series, we explored how to nurture a secure relationship and enhance couple communication using “A.R.E. you there for me?”. For those of you who have not yet read it, you can click here to do so (Nurturing a Secure and Healthy Relationship Part 1).
Quarrels in relationships are indeed common and, to some extent, unavoidable. Disagreements and conflicts can arise due to differences in personalities, communication styles, values, and expectations. Additionally, external stressors such as work, finances, family issues, and health concerns can contribute to tensions within a relationship. However, while quarrels may be unavoidable, it is important for couples to have effective communication to repair any damage to the relationship after each conflict.
In part two of this series, we will be exploring effective communication on how to repair the relationship after a quarrel or fight. Here are some steps to guide your communication after a quarrel:

1. Take a break or “time out”

If both of your emotions are running high, it is important to allow each other to have some space to calm down before attempting to communicate. This break can last from 5 minutes to a few hours, depending on the need of the partner and the intensity of the quarrel. REMEMBER: Get back together at the agreed timing and take a second break if necessary.
Instead of saying: “I will help you with the household chores tomorrow”.
Say this: “You mentioned that you have problems with the laundry rack. Let me help you with drying our clothes when I am done with my dinner.”

2. Express your feelings using “I” statements

Avoid commenting or criticising your partner’s feelings.
“I am feeling defensive when I hear you comment about my work.”
“I feel that I am not listened to when I was sharing about my unhappy incident at work.”
“You are always mad at me”
“How can you raise your voice when I am just sharing with you about what’s disturbing me?”
“You always make me feel…”

3. Acknowledge each other’s emotions

Recognise that it’s normal to feel upset, frustrated, or even hurt after a quarrel. Avoid attack or defensive statements.
“Okay, this quarrel is bad… both of us are hurt…”
“This quarrel is intense! Definitely frustrating and upsetting for you (or us)”
“This is a very small matter, why are you upset?”
“Stop crying please. You are upsetting me.”

4. Clarify what happened by describing your perceptions

Allow each partner to share their own perceptions. Do not blame or criticise in your sharing. When the other partner is sharing, practise active listening.
“I hear you saying…” (less definite and allows room for correction)
“You said…” (more definite and may potentially sound attacking)

5. Take responsibility for your role in the quarrel and acknowledge any mistakes you may have made

Avoid defensiveness or shifting blame onto your partner.
“Okay, I know I raised my voice, and I should not have shouted at you…”
“You shouted first then I shouted.”

6. Establish clear boundaries for respectful communication moving forward

Agree on ground rules and soothing cues for handling disagreements and commit to treating each other with kindness and respect, even during challenging conversations.
“Next time when we disagree again, can we…”
“When you hear me raise my voice, can you put your hands on my arms to tell me to calm down?”
Effective communication after a quarrel requires patience, empathy, and a genuine desire to understand and support each other. By approaching the conversation with an open mind and a willingness to work through differences, you can strengthen your bond as a couple and move forward together.
We understand that navigating conflicts in a relationship can be challenging, but seeking support from a qualified therapist can provide valuable guidance and tools to help you overcome these hurdles and strengthen your bond. Take the next step towards a healthier relationship by reaching out for support today.

Joanne Goh
Principal Therapist
Private Space Medical