What happens when you fight? Who is the one to kick it off? 

Is there a specific theme – a subject that always causes tension? That possibly you can never agree on, or feel like you have opposing views? Or is it the way words are used, the way things are said, that triggers one or both of you and its game on?

Is it loud, shouty and borderline abusive? Or do you use the silent treatment, there is ongoing tension that you feel you can cut with a knife?  and nothing is addressed? 

Or is it just bickering? Continual and not feeling like you are aligned? That you feel you aren’t getting on well.

Well, I advise that in the couple you agree on a safe word or phrase – for example, “Let’s take a break”, “Lets pause”, sometimes couples like to use a bit of humour and have a funny arbitrary word that has meaning to them, for example, “peanuts” or “marshmallow”. No matter what word or phrase you choose, what I want is that if either in the couple is feeling overwhelmed by emotion and they realise things are going to get nasty without much chance of resolution or agreement, that they use the safe word or phrase. Now whatever you use must be neutral and not trigger either of you.

As the couple has committed to trying to do things a little differently to achieve a different outcome and to stop the fighting, as soon as this word is used, I expect that the couple would stop fighting. 

Now it is proved that once feeling overwhelmed, it takes us around 20 to 30 minutes to self soothe. That is for us to breathe normally, our heart rate to come back to normal, and our voices to be level and even toned. 

So, I recommend that the partner that has called a pause on the fighting, be the one to come back and calmly ask to continue the conversation once they are both feeling calm and able to look at things rationally again. By doing this it builds trust in the relationship, that the partner that stopped the conversation is willing to readdress it, to try to find a solution. Even if a solution cannot be reached, that it is okay to be able to agree to disagree, but respectfully so.