CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) Don’t stop fighting: Learn how to repair the relationship afterwards.  No matter how great your relationships with your family and friends might be, there’s always going to be disagreements, some bickering and the occasional no-holes barred, fight fest.  But disagreements are healthy; to love something means you’re passionate about it and it’s worth fighting for.

It’s how you respond in the aftermath of a fight that can make you and your sparring partner stronger, happier and healthier going forward.  Dr. Rob Robinson shares his five tips for picking up the pieces after a fight.

  1. Share your feelings with one another.  “Calmly telling your partner what set you off in the first place can help you trace back fights that often unravel as the situation gets more tense,” says Robinson.
  2. Describe how you were seeing things and validate your partner’s reality.  Your partner wants to know that you heard them.  You need to acknowledge this and then let them know how it made you feel.”
  3. Share triggers and link these to past events or trauma.  Even if you’ve been married for 50 years, you never know ALL of your partner’s life.  Sharing your past can feel comforting and help to continue the healing process.  Knowing your partners triggers can help avoid future disagreements.
  4. Take responsibility and apologize.  If you said something wrong, own up to it.  Words cannot be unheard and people remember what you’ve said over the years.  If you lost your cool, be mature about about what you said and try to build on your maturity.
  5. Create a plan on how each person can make it better next time.  “Think of your relationship like a car,” says Robinson, “If you want to keep it running, it’s better to listen to it and make sure it’s in tip top shape.  If you wait too long, you the problem is only going to get worse.”

Great relationships are built on trust and in the aftermath of a fight, that trust lies in the balance.  After a fight, if you listen to your partner and take steps to understand what got the two of you riled up in the first place, you will have healthier, happier relationships.Rob Robinson is a clinical psychologist with Family Care Counseling Associates in Wilbraham and has been helping families and individuals in the Pioneer Valley for over thirty years.