If You're Bickering With Your Partner More Often, Here's How To Smooth Things Out

I knew my friends' marriage was just about over when their occasional disagreements turned into constant bickering and passive-aggressive jabs. They used to tease each other and show occasional frustration, but toward the end, it never stopped. It had turned nasty and toxic and reminded me of exactly what I did not want in my own relationship. The good news is that both of these people have gone on to find new, happier relationships since. Still, I question, did it have to end this way? Can you turn things around when you're bickering with your partner more often? Or is it really something to worry about? After all, most couples bicker from time to time.

According to Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent relationship therapist in Los Angeles, if the frequency or tone of your bickering changes, it need to be addressed ASAP. "Even in the very best of relationships, there are going to be disagreements from time to time," Dr. Brown tells Elite Daily. "If, however, you find that you and your partner are bickering more frequently then, it says that your relationship has moved into an unhealthy phase that you will want to get out of." Dr. Brown warns that, if left unchecked, these patterns can become habits, which can get ugly — fast. "If you don't find ways to stop this downward spiral of constantly fighting, you run the very real risk of creating a high-conflict and toxic relationship," he explains." Even if the relationship lasts over time, it will very likely be highly unfulfilling." However, it doesn't have to end up that way. Here is how the experts say to get in front of the problem if you and your partner have started bickering more frequently.

Stop trying to “win” every argument.

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When you are bickering with your SO, it's often because you want to prove that you’re right and they’re wrong. However, Dr. Brown says that even if you “win” the argument this way, it is likely a hollow victory. “First, and foremost, when you are bickering ask yourself this question: What is more important right now? To be close or to ‘be right?'" says Dr. Brown. “It's more important to gain understanding and become closer than it is to win a hollow victory. In other words, fight to learn, not to win.”

Work on improving your connection.

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Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense, which is why Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, tells Elite Daily that, to help stop the bickering, the best course of action is to focus on strengthening your connection. “Often when the connection decreases, the fighting increases,” Chlipala explains. “Make sure to spend fun, positive, quality time together as a couple. Make each other a priority.” This works because, as Chlipala notes, you’re much more likely to give each other the benefit of the doubt rather than just resorting to bickering.

Learn to fight fairly with one another.

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The increased bickering may be a sign that you have issues that are going unresolved in your normal arguments. So, to stop the bickering, Dr. Brown explains you need to improve your fighting skills, so that you can argue not only fairly but productively. If you feel heard, you are less likely to continue with the more passive-aggressive digs.

First things first, Dr. Brown says it's essential to only argue about one issue at a time. “So many couples wind up arguing about multiple issues in one fight. Stick to one issue until that issue is resolved, or at least understood by both of you,” he advises. Dr. Brown adds that this requires allowing each person to have the chance to talk, one at a time. “Doing this sends the message to the person who is talking that the partner who is listening truly wants to hear what their partner wants to say. This helps to build trust," he explains. "Doing this will likely help you bicker less as you put a premium on making sure that your partner knows that you are interested in them, whether you agree or not on a particular issue.”

Lastly, if things start to get heated, Dr. Brown says to institute a time-out rule. “If the volume and tone of your argument is getting out of control, be smart and take a time-out until both of you have cooled off," he advises. "The benefit of this is that it can help each of you to avoid saying and doing things that one or both of you might regret.”

Have discussions face to face.

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Whatever you do, Dr. Brown says, resist the urge to be a keyboard warrior in your relationship. It can be really tempting when you are upset to fire off a text, or post a passive-aggressive message on social media, but don’t do it. “If you have a problem, the best thing to do is to talk in person. If that is not possible in a given moment, then at least arrange a time to talk on the phone,” says Dr. Brown “Too much is lost over text — there's really no way to accurately know what someone's intent is if you can't hear the tone of their voice and observe their body language.”

According to the experts, the frequency of bickering can be warning sign that there are larger problems in the relationship. Instead of looking at the behavior as the problem itself, as they explain, consider it a red flat that you need to get to the bottom of what is causing you to feel the need to bicker. Once you address the underlying cause, the bickering issue should resolve itself. So, if you and your partner seem to really be stepping up your bickering game, it's probably time to go ahead and have a heart to heart. Don’t worry, you’ve got this.