19 tips to stop your arguments escalating into destructive fights

By Liz Paul, Psychotherapist & Counsellor

Every couple argues. We all get tired and angry from time to time, or ‘hangry’ or stressed, and sometimes we take it out on our partners.  And that can lead to an argument – often over an insignificant issue.

The key is, though, to make sure we don’t let the argument escalate into a destructive fight.

Here are some tips on how to argue respectfully:

✘  DON’T raise your voice

  DO use a soft voice, or even a whisper

  DON’T speak with urgency in your tone

  DO say ‘You may be right – let me think about that’

  DO start responses with ‘I understand why you would think that’

  DON’T start responses with ‘Yes, but…’

  DO start responses with ‘Yes, and… ‘

✓  DO say ‘I’m sorry’ when you are in the wrong, or you have spoken disrespectfully, or you have hurt your partner’s feelings

  DON’T say ‘You’re wrong’

  DO say ‘I feel differently’

  DON’T threaten to leave your partner

  DON’T think every argument is a threat to your relationship

✓  DO pause and count to 3 before you respond if you need to collect your thoughts

  DON’T stonewall your partner

  DO take a ‘time out’ if you feel yourself getting angry

  DON’T dredge up issues from a long time ago

  DO stick to the issue at hand

✘  DON’T try to win the argument

✓  DO try to resolve the issue using compromise


What are the issues for which most people seek assistance?

  • Relationship break-ups
  • Constantly fighting with your partner
  • Loss of intimacy with your partner
  • Communication problems with your partner or child
  • Difficulty parenting toddlers or teens
  • Pre-marriage counselling
  • A child misbehaving
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Family counselling
  • Wanting to separate from their partner amicably
  • Helping the children cope after a relationship break-up
  • Trouble staying in relationships
  • HSC stress for students and their families
  • Relationship commitment issues
  • Problems at work
  • Couple counselling
  • Difficulties with step-children
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Problems with in-laws
  • Substance addiction
  • Facing major life changes
  • Making new life choices
  • Relationship counselling