10 Surefire Ways To Turn A Small Fight Into A Big One

bombIt’s no secret. Couples have fights.

But not all fights are created equal. Some start small and stay small while others pick up steam as they go and leave a mess in their wake.

And the difference in outcomes is not random.

Have you ever seen a fight coming a mile away and done nothing to stop it?

Or worse, just for the heck of it you did your best to provoke it?

Sometimes we’re like that. We’re short-fused or irritable or maybe we’re bored. Or, as a friend likes to say, we’re simply a fight looking for something to pick itself on.

Other times, the last thing we want is yet another knock-down-drag-out about unloading the dishwasher, but we feel powerless to stop it.

The truth is: we’re not. Continue reading

How To Make An Award Winning No-Holds-Barred Apology

Knowing the secrets of a really good apology can mean the difference between this:

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And this:

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Most of us learned to apologize back when we were in preschool and as far as I can tell, few people have upgraded their approach since then.

Continue reading

Fights Driving You Crazy? Try These Three Words

Say you’re about to get into one of your typical fights. The fight you’ve had ten thousand times before and it always ends badly. The one where you say this and your partner says that and the next thing you know you’ve turned into a matched pair of lunatics.

Maybe you slam a door or you yell. Screen Shot 2013-09-22 at 9.04.47 AMMaybe you turn into an ice queen or a sniper or you go silent as stone. Whatever your style, if you’re like most couples, when trouble brews you do the one thing that’s 100% guaranteed to get you into a fight. You get sucked in.

What if instead of “going with the flow,” one of you gets a grip on your sanity and says: Let’s. Back. Up.

Short, sweet, and incredibly powerful— if you have the wherewithal to not only say it but do it.

Let’s back up is the next best thing to Continue reading

Making It Last… and Last and Last

What if when you said “until death do us part” you were signing on to a marriage that may last as long as a century?

Today TIME.com ran a piece that talked about how with the possibility of some of us living to be one hundred fifty years old we may live long enough to have two or even three very long marriages.

I began to wonder, instead, what one would need to do to have one marriage that would remain vital and satisfying for a hundred years, or even longer? With a mere thirty-five years of marriage under my belt, my first thought was Continue reading

When One Partner Is Out and The Other Is In

What To Do When Your Spouse Wants A Divorce And You Still Think There’s Hope

Anyone who’s been in a relationship for more than ten minutes knows that no two people will see eye-to-eye about everything. One’s wearing a sweater while the other is fanning herself. One puts ketchup on eggs while the other is horrified.

Fine, you say. There’s no need to agree. You can say tomato and I’ll say tomahto.

But what if your iStock_000008507563XSmalldifference is about something more serious than diction or condiments or setting the thermostat? What if one of you desperately wants to hold your marriage together while the other has met with an attorney and is now spending every spare moment looking at apartments on Craig’s list?

You can’t very well agree to disagree about this.

If you were to poll twenty-five couples therapists, at least twenty-four of us would say Continue reading

Two Feet In

The difference between involvement
and commitment is like ham and eggs.
The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.

– Martina Navratilova

iStock_000008611889XSmallWhen I first met Beverly, she was a newlywed— for the fifth time. Though she’d assured friends and family that this one was for keeps, several years later she was, again, getting divorced.

“Why do you marry these men?” I asked when she announced her engagement to husband number six. “Why not just date them, or move in with them?” I said, knowing that one time she’d married a man she’d met only four weeks earlier while having coffee in Starbucks.

Her answer: Continue reading