CEASEFIRE: End a Domestic Square Off

Stop the Fight Fast!

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Brain thinking stupid and angry thoughts
Remind you of anyone?

Stop the Fight Fast!

Keep these points handy; your stupid, angry brain won’t remember!

1. Don’t Bring Up Separation or Divorce in the Heat of an Argument

This is not a decision to make when you are angry, and without a doubt will make the conflict worse.

Likewise, if your partner says they hate you and want to leave you, or similar hurtful things, remember they’re angry and probably don’t mean what they say.

We all say things we don’t mean when we are upset.

Don’t say . . . “I am leaving”. . .  Do say . . . “I am leaving the room to calm down. I need some time to cool off”.

2. Don’t Make Ultimatums or Threats (or they will return to haunt you!)

People do things more readily out of love than fear; threats rarely work and only breed resentment. If you force someone to do what you want by threatening them, it will always be at the expense of their love and respect for you.

If your partner’s behaviour is unacceptable, you must learn other ways of limiting that behaviour. Threats won’t resolve a domestic; they will only escalate the fight.

Don’t say . . . “Stop saying that, or I won’t come home tonight”. . . Do say . . . “I want to talk to you, but when we have calmed down, and you can be patient with me, I need time to cool off right now.”

3. Stop Thinking You Need Your Partner to do What You Want them to

They cannot help you now as they are tied up in dealing with their own negative emotions. Be wise and give yourself and your partner both some time and space.

4. Take Care of Your Own Hurt Feelings

If you need to get away from your partner to feel safe and get some quiet time, do so, but clearly say where you are going, when you will be back, and that you need some time to cool off. Say that you are too overwhelmed to talk anymore and need space to deal with your emotions. If they give you time alone without disturbing you, stay where you are, but don’t wait for your partner to come and see you to ‘make up’ or make you feel better. They need time to calm down, too.

If they walk out on you, forget about them for now and take care of yourself.

Suppose you have children; reassure them that you are okay and things will be alright. No matter how hurt you feel, be brave and strong for your kids; they love strength in a parent and will adore you for it. If you can, ask a neighbour to watch them for an hour and then do what you must to feel better. This might be listening to ‘Lovable Me’ or some calming music you like, taking a walk somewhere nice, having a bath or shower or listening to a recording of rain sounds. If there is no one to watch the kids, take them for a walk or to the park.

Learning to soothe yourself and get back to being happy, regardless of how your partner is feeling or behaving, is one of the most essential skills you will ever learn to be more emotionally fit and intelligent.

5. Do Not Drink Alcohol, use Drugs or Talk About the Fight – These Actions Will Only Fuel Further Bad Feelings

Likewise, do NOT work yourself up further by swinging your arms around, such as using a punching bag or chopping wood. It was once thought that this would help get your anger out, but research has shown that doing something calming is much better.

You will change how you feel by changing your focus; focus on something calm and beautiful, and your feelings will eventually go in that direction.

Start by sitting, lying down or going for a walk. Give it some time, and the bad feelings will pass.

Like baking bread, your emotions are a chemical reaction. Deciding to be happy is like turning the oven on. Give baking your ‘loaf of happiness’ the time it needs in the oven.

Your angry brain will tell you that you can’t be happy now – but none of our angry brains are brilliant thinkers, but more like psychotic shock jocks.

Choose something that always makes you happy to focus on, and your mind will tune to a different station and feel better soon.

6. Decide You are Not Going to Think About the Problem Until You Are 100% Calm

It can take up to two days to calm down once you lose your cool.

Make a note on a piece of paper about what first angered you. Then, leave it until you are entirely calm before you think about that situation again or determine what you will do about whatever triggered you.

The angry shock jocks that talk to us in our heads when we are angry tell us to do things that we will usually regret later.

Wise, successful people do not listen to that angry voice or take what others say to them personally when angry or upset.

7. No Matter How Much You Might Feel Like Hurting Your Partner by Saying or Doing Mean Things, Try to be Honest About Your Own Hurt

Say, “I feel hurt by what you are saying to me, and I need time to calm down. I hope we can get past this”.

You can also reassure your partner that you will stand by them and that, even though you are angry, you will not leave them (if you can do this honestly).

Having the courage to admit your hurt and vulnerability shows much more courage and strength than trying to control your partner with aggression and intimidation.

Don’t say . . . “I have always hated you. You are a narcissist ….” Do say . . . “I feel very hurt by what you are saying, and I’m angry at you, but I also love you. So right now, I need time to calm down before saying anything I don’t mean.”

8. If Your Partner is Not Answering You, Understand it Might be Because They Are Emotionally Overwhelmed

This generally happens to men faster than women. When faced with criticism or conflict, it is very human to reach a point where we freeze up. Understand this, and don’t assume they are ignoring or trying to hurt you further.

Silence in a fight equals emotional overwhelm, and you need to give your partner time to recover their emotional balance before they can talk to you. This may even take a day or two.

Don’t say . . . “Stop ignoring me!”. . . Do say . . . “I need some time to cool off, and you probably do too. I am going to take some time out now. I’m not abandoning you. I hope we can discuss this more amicably when you are ready”.

9. Don’t Ignore What the Fight Was About

Refer to your notes about what triggered the fight a few days later. Only when you are calm should you decide what action to take.

Anger is a clear sign that a boundary has been crossed, and you need to work on defending it in future. Complaining to your partner will probably not help. Our books will assist with this.

Note: A boundary is just like it sounds. It is the line of what behaviour you find comfortable accepting from others. For instance, if someone disrespects you, this line has been ‘trespassed’, and it is normal to feel angry.

Make a note of what upset you to consider later when you are calm when your better brain can figure out how to stop this from happening again. This is just as important as calming yourself in the heat of the moment.

You can read more about boundaries here and learn more about limiting disrespectful behaviour from our eBooks.

10. Don’t Bring up the Conversation Again Until You Have Decided How You Will Defend the Boundary

You should leave this for at least two or three days.

If the neighbour’s horse eats your roses, there is no point in asking the horse to stop–you must put up a fence. Likewise, asking a person to change is not setting a boundary.

Too often these days, no contact (previously known as the silent treatment) is suggested as the only boundary that will be effective. This is dangerous advice. No contact will usually escalate the conflict and turn you into an emotional abuser.

Learning to end conversations that have become disrespectful early is assertive but much kinder. Men and women alike value kindness in a partner over any other trait.

11. When You See Your Partner Again, be Ready to Offer an Olive Branch

When you first see your partner again, say you need a few days to think about the fight and don’t want to talk about it right now.

Try to be light. Remember that admitting you are sorry or embarrassed might be challenging but is very attractive.

You will have a chance to work on defending the boundary that has been crossed later; for now, start by considering how you may have crossed your partner’s boundaries.

It is easy for fights to flare in the two days following an upset, so give it time before you tackle the issue again. Try to remember what you value about your relationship and what you both have in common.

Learning to discuss your differences in a way that is creative and constructive will take patience and humility; humour is a better place to start working on this than self-righteous indignation.

12. Don’t Tell Yourself the conflict Must be Resolved immediately

The more pressing the matter, the more critical you take time to calm down.

If your partner is uncooperative, change your plans and organise things differently without expecting their help.

Practising this will help you become more flexible, and in time, you will become better at shifting your plans not to include a person who does not want to cooperate. This does not mean you should take responsibility for tasks that are not yours to manage. If a person becomes irresponsible when angry, they may need to experience the consequences of this without you jumping in to rescue them.

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You probably won’t ever change your initial reaction of anger when you are disrespected. This would not be healthy anyway–as anger is an important signal–but you can adjust how you respond.

Just like exercising a muscle, You will learn to control your response with practice.

When you feel your emotions flare, think . . . “I have a great chance Now to exercise self-control”.

This is not about bottling up your emotions. Feeling angry when treated rudely is a healthy sign, but you must train yourself to treat this as an internal signal that you should take note of and then let the anger go (and wait until you are entirely calm again) before deciding how to deal with the problem.

Admit that you are angry if this is appropriate, but also learn to regulate and control your response; getting the stupid shock jock that is your angry brain to shut up and climb back in its box is challenging but will improve your success in life in every way that science has arrived at to measure success.

Hot heads don’t fare well in life and do worse on every scale of success that can be measured. Earning less, living in worse neighbourhoods, higher rates of suicide and divorce, etc. All of these poor outcomes are also passed on to their children.

Our anger is a clear sign that something is amiss in our lives, but there is rarely a benefit from acting out on our anger in the heat of the moment.

Practice these skills, and you will undoubtedly see every aspect of your life improve . . .