When conflict with your partner escalates to anger, name calling, slamming doors and irreparable damage it may be time to take a closer look at what is really going on. I get asked frequently how to fight fair without saying hurtful things that can not be taken back. Most likely something is being triggered from your past or your partner’s past. The telltale sign that it is an old wound being opened is when you feel an unreasonable amount of anger that does not parallel the situation at hand. The balance of logic and reasoning is thrown off by a flood of emotions.

Ninety percent of what we react to is actually in the past, only ten percent is happening in the present. Quite often when you are in conflict you or your partner are experiencing an unmet need. First try using “I need” statements instead of “You never” or “You don’t”.

Be aware that even though an argument seems unique each time there is usually a past recurring underlying theme that most of your conflicts filter through. For instance if you were not listened to as a child, you will tend to strain all your partner’s actions and words through a neglect filter. If he is working late, you may view this as neglect and get angry with him when he arrives home. He may not be the cause of you feeling this way, your past may be the culprit. He is just the trigger. The next time you feel an argument or conflict arising with your partner; agree to be perfectly honest and transparent with each other. Ask each other three questions to keep the conflict focused on the problem at hand so it does not escalate.

1) What do you need that you are not getting from me? Take a couple of minutes to think before you answer. Perhaps validation, time, physical needs, listening, sex, domestic contributions, … Then ask each other the next question.

2) What does this remind you of from your childhood or past? Take a minute to decide if you are reacting to a conflict with your spouse in the present or transferring an emotional scar from the past to the present. Often childhood deficits are at the core of our present needs. Then ask each other the next question.

3) Who did you experience this with as a child or teen? Take a minute to answer and decide if you are projecting someone else’s sins onto your partner? (Mother, Father, Coach, Clergy, Ex Boyfriend)

If you both do this exercise and be completely honest with yourselves and each other you will most likely find that your anger diffuses. Keep these questions posted nearby so you have easy access to them when disagreements arise. Exercise repetition with this exercise. After a while it becomes second nature.

Author's Bio: 

Denise Wade Ph.D. CMRC is a Dating Mentor, Transformational Educator, Author, Researcher, and Relationship Expert. Denise empowers, teaches, and inspires women to release emotional baggage, heal past pains, identify unhealthy relationship patterns and triggers, and be seen and heard in all their relationships. She is passionate about helping women create positive, loving, long lasting relationships. Receive Relationship Tips and Advice

Copyright © 2011 by Denise Wade, Ph.D. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.