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You come home from a long day of work, the garbage wasn't taken out, there are dishes everywhere, the entire apartment looks like a bunch of chimps came in just to destroy the place, and it smells so very, very bad. Sounds horrid, right? There's more, though. Your partner has been home all gosh darn day sitting playing video games, watching TV, or napping.
World War Three breaks out. Suddenly it's their all their fault, but it's also all your fault, and they don't treat you right, but all you do is complain and nag. You're both in self-defense mode, one of you is in tears, the other one walks out the door to cool off. We've all been there; no relationship is without its quarrels. Once the fight is over, what's next? The next step is communication.
Proper communication isn't as simple as people make it out to be. For one thing, you have to remember that you both come from different communication backgrounds. Some families are very open about how they feel with each other and are very good at communication. Some people come from families where violence is how they expressed themselves. This kind of family background can be tricky as it can make the other person scared to voice their side of the argument. There are also families that sweep everything under the rug. This means that they keep their feelings bottled up until they explode, and this can usually lead to saying things being said that aren't relevant to the problem and your message may not be clear. There are many other kinds of communication backgrounds, but in my experience, these are the main ones.
Let's talk about a few things not to do once you and your partner are ready to talk. Do not quote your partner's words from the fight. Chances are things were said on both sides that you did not mean. It is okay to quote yourself and apologize for things that should not have been said on your end. That being said, do not just say, "I'm sorry." Instead, try saying, "I am sorry for..." then continue.
Do not make excuses. If you blame the fact that you were fighting because you had a bad day at work or a headache—when you do this you are saying, "I'm passing the blame for my personal problems onto you even though you have nothing to do with them." If you have had a bad day at work, let your partner know in advance so they know you might be a little more irritable than usual.
Do not jab at each other. My boyfriend and I are so bad for this. It starts off with a simple joke, then the other person tries to top it off, and it just escalates until one person goes too far. After a fight, avoid being mean to one another, even if it is in fun. Feelings have just been hurt, emotions are high, and now is not the time to be putting your words in the air for misinterpretation.
Now that you know what not to do, let's focus on some tips on communication. The first and most important is to listen. Listening is something a lot of people think they can do, but that is not the case. You have to remember that you are listening to your partner to understand, not to respond.
Own up to your side of things. In the example, in the beginning, the apartment was a mess and that is what set you off. But maybe you've been slacking off on dishes and that is mainly your job. That means it was wrong of you to put all of the blame for that situation on your partner. Maybe part of the mess is that your clothes are on the floor and you didn't make the bed that morning. You have to recognize what part of your frustration is actually on you. Not everything is your partner's fault.
Take and give constructive criticism. The thing about criticism is that it is not meant to make the other person feel bad. If you don't know how to criticize properly, try the compliment sandwich. The compliment sandwich is a positive, followed by a negative, then lastly a positive. This will leave the person, hopefully feeling less attacked. It will also remind you why you're with them in the first place. This being said, don't dish it out if you can't take it. Remember, the only way you can improve is by knowing your faults. Try not to get too defensive.
Once the issues are solved do something fun together. Once the hugs and the kisses are done from the makeup do something together that you both enjoy. Whether it is a spur of the moment date or even just playing a board game. While doing an activity together, remember to play nice. Say nice things to one another. Remember that you love one another.