How to prevent arguments in a relationship

Learning to deal with arguments and come out the other side with minimal negativity or damage is a key aspect in the conflict solving stage of a relationship.

One step further is preventing arguments from occurring in the first place! It is an advanced skill for couples to achieve but one that ultimately leads to the most continually positive and fulfilling relationships.

This article will discuss some useful methods for preventing arguments in a relationship before they even get started… 🙂

Maintaining love, value and respect:

I’ve stated many times before that the majority of arguments and negativity in a relationship stem from not feeling loved, valued or respected enough.

Hence it sounds elementary that the prevention of arguments is achieved simply by maintaining a mutual and healthy level of love, value and respect. It is indeed that simple on the surface but the process along with its obstacles is slightly more complicated.

The rest of this article will discuss more specific ways to maintain love, value and respect but if you keep those three concepts in mind at all times, you give yourself the best chance of catching yourself before you ever reach argument mode.

A quick tip to maintain love, value and respect:

One of the most important rituals in a relationship is the first time you see each other and each time you say goodbye. Even if you have daily frustrations vented up or you are feeling in a bad mood, if you make a conscious effort to be enthusiastic, positive and loving when you first see your other half, you will avoid the risk of taking your temper out on them or setting a negative mood.

I’ve witnessed this one technique alone have extremely positive effects on a couple’s relationship. If you always greet and leave each other with positive emotions, you will find it far less tempting to argue with each other during the times in between.

Rid your relationship of blame and ego:

If you break down the actual content of any argument, it will usually be fuelled by something that has happened in the past, whether directly or indirectly. Either way, it manifests as a form of blame; blame that derives from a feeling of injustice or a feeling that your partner is inconsiderate or wrong.

This is one of the primary issues to overcome if you are to completely rid your relationship of arguments: the need to feel right!

This links back to the previous section about maintaining a mutual and healthy level of love, value and respect. If you make an effort to prosper across all three areas, you will never feel the need to highlight that your partner is wrong.


Heidi and I by no means agree on everything but we always respect and empathise with each other’s viewpoint. The substance for an argument is merely a different opinion, feeling or emotion to yours and it takes an enlightened mind to realise and empathise with that.

It’s great to be able to let things go in your relationship, even if you are adamant that you are in the right. Having said that, a common trap to fall into is to not actually let the argument go completely and stockpile these moments for a later time. In this case, you aren’t preventing an argument, you are merely postponing it!

Arguing couples can fit into two categories. The first are the ones who constantly seem to be arguing about trivial things and rarely seem to find solace. The second are ones who do the stockpiling technique I mentioned and after going a certain amount of time without any arguments, will let it all out in an eventual crescendo of acrimony.

Letting go of blame and ego influenced arguments means truly and deeply letting go and not merely postponing those feelings.

Anticipate arguments:

One thing that gets easier over time is learning to predict your partner’s mood and calibrate your behaviour accordingly. If your partner has had a long day or you can sense their frustration building up then the onus is on you to actively avoid any negative emotional spikes.

A negative emotional spike is an instance, be it verbal or physical that antagonises or fuels your partner’s temper.

Such spikes of emotion are easy to avoid by being more aware and biting your tongue if you start to feel criticised or attacked. This leads into the next point about changing emotions.

Change their mood, not their mind:

One of the great things about emotions is that they can be changed in an instant. Imagine you are having a terrible day where nothing seems to be going right and everything seems to be infuriating you. Now imagine that your boss calls you unexpectedly and tells you that you are getting a promotion… Instant change of mood!

This same concept can be applied to your relationship. Following on from the earlier point about anticipating arguments, make it a priority to try and positively change your partner’s mood when they most need it. Positive emotions are contagious and easily reciprocated.

Encourage discussions without judgement:

The final point is to understand the distinction between an argument and a discussion. Discussions are great in a relationship as they reflect a deep level of connection and rapport. This is provided that any negative emotions or judgemental attitudes can be kept at bay. After all, an argument is simply a discussion with added negative emotions!

It is ok to disagree in a relationship… It is HOW you disagree that is important. One of the most underrated sayings in a relationship is “let’s agree to disagree”. If you can disagree without coming across as patronising, condescending and most importantly, without implying that anyone is “right” or “wrong”, then those discussions should never escalate into full-blown arguments. 🙂

Much love,

Sam

20 replies
  1. Jen Goodhue
    Jen Goodhue says:

    I love this article Sam and it makes me think back to past relationships and ways we let arguing get out of hand. The parts about helping change their mood and it being o.k to disagree in the right way I especially like and would have helped back then. My most serious relationship ended due to the excessive arguing and not knowing how to prevent it like you describe.

    I am in a relationship now where we love each other dearly but I do sometimes find that it is me who has to keep the peace. My partner loses his temper very easily. Your article answers the questions I had and I am going to try to be more considerate and helpful during those times from now on.

    Jen

    • Samuel McCrohan
      Samuel McCrohan says:

      Hi Jen,

      I’m glad you like the article and have used it to think back over past relationships and learn from those experiences.

      There often will be one person who is more an instigator for preventing arguments when they are brewing. This is generally the person who is in the most positive and rational state at the time (arguments are caused by temporarily losing either or both of those attributes).

      As relationships set into more of a routine, there will usually be one person who more frequently takes up this role. The best way to lead is by example though and the more consistently and respectfully you can “keep the peace”, the more likely it is that your partner will follow suit. 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      Sam

  2. Jon
    Jon says:

    Hey. Arguments have always been the thing that I found hard to control. Im not an aggressive guy but can get wound up by gf very easily. The thing that infuriates me is when I know I am right about something where there is a right answer (I cant think of an example but say a math problem) and my gf will argue with me even though I know Im right. How do you deal with that?

    I think I sometimes stockpile arguments like you wrote. I dont always end up having a massive row about it but it does make me build more an more resentment and I guess is one of the reasons my old relationships ended. Other than that I guess I agree with my gf just to avoid arguments.

    Awesome article as always dude. -J

    • Samuel McCrohan
      Samuel McCrohan says:

      Hey Jon,

      I understand how a situation like that where you know full well that you are right can be infuriating. The thing to ask yourself though is why it really matters that the other person agrees with you.

      The thing is, if someone is not willing to listen and accept your explanation or point of view then it doesn’t matter how logical or persistent you are, they are unlikely to change their mind.

      The worst thing is for a logical discussion to turn into an emotional argument!

      If you can prove your point without seeming to gloat or patronise then things shouldn’t escalate to an argument. If the other person doesn’t seem keen on listening then your best option is to change the subject and forget about it.

      Your second point is a situation that is common amongst particularly long yet testing relationships. One thing to be wary of is making sure you never come across as passive-aggressive.

      Passive-aggressive behaviour is the act of agreeing with your partner but still holding conflicting views. It is easy for resentments to form over time this way. As the above article discusses, you can disagree with your girlfriend without having an argument, as long as you do it in the correct way. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting,

      Sam

  3. Hanaa
    Hanaa says:

    My bf and I have been going out for 3 years, and during this time we’ve learnt a lot about each other and most importantly I’ve learnt a lot about myself in terms of what it is I really want in life and in a relationship. Firstly, we’re a bit hard headed at times, but I’ve learnt how to compromise, however he hasn’t, and even although I’ve spoke to him about it, nothing seems to change. I always try my best and I’d be accommodating towards, because I want him to be happy and when you love someone you’d do anything for them because you feel that they deserve it. Unfortunately my bf doesn’t reciprocate the things that I do for him, for example we never see each other during the week because we feel that we need to spend time on our studies and i’m very understanding where this is concerned because i’m a student too, but on weekends when we have time to see each other he would rather choose seeing is friends over spending time with me and you must know that i’m not the controlling type and I allow him to see his friends because he should spend time with them, they were in his life before I was to be fair. Only problem with that is the fact that when I make plans with him he’ll wait and see what comes up first before he agrees to them or he would give up my plans to see his friends but not once will he give up plans with his friends to see me. I feel neglected and taken for granted because he thinks that I’ll just be the understanding gf, and I put so much effort in to make plans to see him but he would never do the same for him, it feels like everything else in his life comes first and then there’s me waiting patiently at the receiving end. At the moment its just all about what he wants in life and what he expects in a gf, but he’s not receptive to change and others needs especially mine and if I mention it to him he’ll become defensive and get angry at me for being with upset with him and then he’ll give me the silent treatment when i’ve done nothing wrong to begin with and then I’ll have to give in first and apologise for something i didn’t do just to get the argument over and done with, because I hate arguing with him because its like I can’t get through to him. I’ve become a bit unhappy since these issues just accumulate and when I try talking to him about it, I get told that I’m going on for “crap/shit”. I really don’t know what to do anymore because when i’m so ready to break up he comes apologizing and says he’ll work on it and he does try but old habit keep coming back. Considering how long we’ve been going out for, i’d really like to enjoy my relationship and not have to bring up the same issues over and over again. I don’t know how to let go either because its hard. Help ?:(

    • Samuel McCrohan
      Samuel McCrohan says:

      Hi Hanaa,

      When you’ve been in a relationship for such a long time, it takes a lot of courage to step back and assess everything that is going on. You already seem acutely aware of the dynamics in your relationship, which is the first step to prompting change. The fact that you have been together for so long means there is definitely a happy relationship that can be restored with a bit of conflict solving. 🙂

      You sound like a very understanding person and perhaps your boyfriend has subconsciously taken advantage of this, or taken it for granted as you say. As a relationship progresses, it becomes increasingly easy to fit into habitual roles that are allowed by our partners. Not being a controlling person is a great attribute to have but that can be exploited, once again most likely subconsciously. Compromise is by definition a mutual activity, so although you have become good at compromising, when it is one-sided it can come across as supplicating.

      Comparisons between the two of you and how you treat each other shouldn’t become important in this instance and can actually cause further arguments. What is important is him being seemingly unaware of your desires, or at least not genuinely believing that they need fulfilling.

      The key thing that will sort out all of this is communication but doing so in a way that will prevent further arguments or conflict.

      Whenever you are sharing a positive moment with your boyfriend, start telling him the things that he does that you love and appreciate, whilst also telling him the things you would love him to do more often. Framing it as all about the positive aspects gives him less reason to build resentment or start an argument. It is okay to explain that you sometimes feel unappreciated or not valued enough in the relationship, as long as it is done without blame, criticism or neediness.

      Second to this, being more decisive in communicating your desires will help him start to sincerely believe that his current behaviour is not aligned with your happiness and fulfilment in the relationship. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, it is actually beneficial to not always be too available and to make your partner work at the relationship, both physically and emotionally. The fact that he does apologise and shows a willingness to work on certain aspects implies that he is aware of this, but if that decisiveness isn’t strong enough, he will ultimately revert back to his former habits without any serious repercussions.

      A combination of the above two techniques should help him realise how serious you are about what you want out of your relationship. 🙂

      Thanks for writing and let me know how things turn out,

      Sam

    • Hanaa
      Hanaa says:

      Hi Sam 🙂

      It’s been a while, but I finally had a chance this evening to let you know how things have been since we last spoke. My bf and I haven’t had any serious arguments since then, apart from little quarrels that we have from time to time, but we get over them very quickly and move on. I took your advice and made myself less available, and I’ve noticed that the less I say to him, whether its details about my day or what I’m doing, it leaves room for him to ask more questions and speak to me. Recently he apologised for not always replying to my messages and for being distant (due to studies) and that he wouldn’t like it if I was like that towards him, and in response I actually laughed (its very seldom he apologises for something without me mentioning it) and he replied and told me that he was being serious, however since I was so caught up in studying for finals, I mentioned to him that I actually haven’t really been taking note because I’ve been so busy myself, but I thanked him and accepted his apology. I have to admit though,before all of this, I wanted him to need me and to love me back the way I love him and so I tried to be the best I could be and since that never changed anything, I found myself not wanting him so much anymore, in the sense that its become okay if I don’t see him (even though I’m so used to not seeing him during the week) and there’s no longing desire or that feeling of missing him anymore. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing? … I think that I’ve withdrawn a little and I think that its due to the fact that I’ve been paying more attention to myself rather than someone I’m not going to get the attention from.I also found that arguing or talking about the things that matter, actually makes me tired and I no longer have the emotional energy for it ,so I try and avoid bringing stuff up.I love him a lot even although I know the type of person he is…but I feel sad, because I’ve invested a lot into our relationship, and I find myself questioning whether this is worth it…the song ‘Fix you’ by coldplay perfectly describes this (even though the song was written for a completely different reason) in the first verse “when you try your best but you don’t succeed,when you get what you want but not you need…stuck in reverse” and in the second/third verse ” when you’re too in love to let go, but if you never try you’ll never know, just what you’re worth”…this is how I feel at the moment :(…sometimes we expect more from others because we would be willing to do that much for them and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing, but I suppose I should be a bit more realistic when it comes to these things. I fully understand that nobody is perfect and I know I’m not either,but as you’ve mentioned previously, he does end up taking me for granted unknowingly, and as far as that is concerned, I’m a little tired and I’m not sure what to do anymore, perhaps I made him a bigger part of my life than I should’ve…

    • Samuel McCrohan
      Samuel McCrohan says:

      Hi Hanaa,

      It’s great to hear an update from you and also some of the positive changes you’ve been making. Focusing on yourself and your own happiness aside from the relationship is actually the best way to deal with situations like this.

      You’ve already noticed how those sorts of actions have started to make your boyfriend more aware of the dynamics in the relationship and how you want to be treated.

      One way to look at a relationship is that it is a mutual exchange of positive emotions and subsequent rewarding behaviour for those positive emotions. The aim is to do whatever it takes to keep it as consistently mutual as possible.

      Whilst nobody is “perfect”, you can definitely be with someone who is perfect for YOU. I see where you are coming from with your point about having invested a lot of time and energy into this relationship already. The thing is that whether you stay in a relationship or not, the past is merely a series of lessons towards how you really want your relationship to be. A philosophical way to look at it is that we are constantly “losing” what we had yesterday and starting afresh today regardless of what we do.

      You are really insightful about everything that is going on and I am sure that if you continue to concentrate on being happy outside the relationship, the right answers will come regarding your actual relationship. This is assuming that you still have a good communication and understanding with your boyfriend so that he does not feel clueless about what to do from his perspective.

      Take care,

      Sam

    • Hanaa
      Hanaa says:

      Hi Sam

      I have to start by thanking you for the sound advice you have always given me. Almost a month ago I decided to end things with my bf but he suggested we take a break from each instead. I won’t deny the fact that it was really hard at first and I felt really hurt, because I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to try again and you must know that in the past I never gave up on him despite the way he was. I went through these highs and lows, everyday felt different, I sometimes woke up asking myself if this was really happening and eventually i stopped crying and pulled myself together in this short space of time. He said that he needed time to think about what he really wants in life and this might be the biggest mistake he’s making

    • Samuel McCrohan
      Samuel McCrohan says:

      Hi Hanaa,

      It sounds like your relationship is in a confusing state of limbo after having been through a lot. Indecision and unease in a relationship are always going to make things harder. The more often you can step aside and not let the emotion of the situation dictate how you really feel, the easier it will become to both decide what you really want.

      I hope things work out for the best,

      Sam

    • Hanaa
      Hanaa says:

      Hi Sam

      I was unable to complete my previous message and I had no idea that it had already been submitted. I recently spoke to him and I allowed him to speak first since I already said everything I wanted to say before the break. He mentioned that he knew what he wanted but he had doubts and during the time we spent apart he realised that he needs to change and try if he wants to be with me,in order to make things work. I asked him if had considered everything I said to him before and he said yes and he then mentioned that we need to improve our way of communicating with each other. I have to say, it was quite refreshing hearing this come from him, previously I was always the one thinking of ways to make things work. He also mentioned that if he has those doubts again he would let me know and we’d work things out. I listened carefully to what he had to say and the first thing that came to mind was that we definitely can’t go back to the way were before; we were in this routine and he became comfortable with it and since it never worked out for us in the past, something has to change. I let him know what I was thinking and told him that we have to do things differently this time if we’re going to try again and he agreed with me. He also mentioned that even though he doesn’t always say it he does love me a lot. So we’re going to try again and hopefully things will work out the way I always wanted them to. We’re both positive that we could work.

      Thanks for all your advice Sam, not a day goes by without considering what you’ve had say 🙂

    • Samuel McCrohan
      Samuel McCrohan says:

      Hi Hanaa,

      That’s great to hear that you’ve made progress, discussed some of the issues and both want to make the relationship work. Your boyfriend sounds a lot more aware of the changes to make now and as he has highlighted, communication is definitely something to keep a priority.

      Let me know how things go, 🙂

      Sam

  4. mike
    mike says:

    hey sam, I’ve been in a on & off relationship for 2 and a half years now and my girlfriend gives me the world & she’s always there for me and she always goes above & beyond . she is wonderful. BUT, i feel like i dont know how to show my emotion back. i know i love her but i dont know how to show it. she herself has even told me that it shows i dont love her or care for her anymore, but i know i do. In the past we have had some really hard times but we both have moved on from it, & since then my attitude has changed. I dont know how to show that i care or that i love anymore. I know this is the women i wanna marry, and i just want to go back to how i use to be. How can i be more loving and caring and give her the world and to show her i care and love her?

    • Samuel McCrohan
      Samuel McCrohan says:

      Hey Mike,

      This is one of my favourite topics and it’s great that you want to show your girlfriend what she means to you. Women will generally have specific emotional desires that are important to them and it is down to you to discover what they are for your girlfriend.

      A book that I would recommend reading if you get the chance is ‘The five love languages’ by Gary Chapman. He talks about every woman (and man) having a preferred expression of love.

      If you can discover exactly what your partner responds positively to (for example, affectionate touch or sincere compliments) then you will represent a man that understands her! Once you have that level of understanding, you will find a whole host of ways to regularly show your girlfriend your true feelings. 🙂

      I hope that heads you in the right direction and thanks for stopping by,

      Sam

  5. Lizi
    Lizi says:

    Hi Sam,

    I was very impressed with the insightful yet simply put article I found from you. My Google search bar has been full of relationship questions lately and your advice struck me the most.

    My partner and I have been together for a year but we are practically married. We moved in at one month and the have been practically inseparable since. Our relationship has been very dynamic and exciting as we are both intense and fast moving people. Most of our problems with each other stem from fear. He fears that I will sray away from him and leave ( which I am very guilty of treatening during intense fights) and I am afraid of dealing with his intense emotions and sudden mood swings (anger, clingy behavior, and dramatic crying). We are both such triggers for eachother and our relationship can be at doomsday at the drop of a hat.

    Our current situation is more stressful as we both recently moved to a new city. I don’t have a job and am dependent on him financially. Also I became pregnant a few months ago and was crushed to find out last week that I lost the baby. It’s been the hardest time of my life and my purpose is now lost. I feel like the stress is overwheling. Before dating him I was single and protected my heart and now I feel like an ametur when it comes to relationship problem solving. We use a lot of blaming and hold on to resentments of past pain. The relationship is taking up all of my energy and I am not happy. I am tempted to end it but am afraid these same issues will just show up in another relationship. Should I just work harder?

    • Samuel McCrohan
      Samuel McCrohan says:

      Hi Lizi,

      The whole situation of moving to a new city and recently losing your baby is no doubt an extremely trying time. Coupled with the fact that you describe yourselves as “practically married”, it sounds like there is a lot of intense expectation on the relationship. Being in a relationship should be something that makes your lives easier, happier and less stressful, rather than the opposite.

      Ridding your relationship of blame and fears is something that you can work at together in this instance. It is likely that you are dealing with the recent circumstances in different ways and so it is vital that you remain involved in and empathetic towards each other’s emotions, rather than pulling away or creating arguments. This includes mutually acknowledging the triggers that cause the dynamic of the relationship to switch.

      Only you can ultimately decide if the relationship in its best form is what you want right now, but try to decide that purely on relationship reasons, whilst being open and honest with your boyfriend. It is easy to link personal feelings and external factors to that decision and like you say, those won’t necessarily go away by being single or in a different relationship.

      I’m glad you like the article so much and I hope things work out for the best. 🙂

      Sam

  6. Jonah
    Jonah says:

    A very close friend of mine has this girl friend and I have noticed whenever there is a discussion she seems to be taking the side of other guys to the point of defending the other guy wether its me or some random dude at a party. She does this at his expense. My friend is very cool and confident and wouldn’t let this get to him, but I want to tell him to set some boundaries and tell his girlfriend not to belittle him infront of other people by blatantly always oppossing him and defending some random guy, but at the same time I dont want to interfere.

    • Samuel McCrohan
      Samuel McCrohan says:

      Hey Jonah,

      There are several underlying reasons as to why someone would constantly disagree with their partner. One reason is a desire to feel opinionated and individually esteemed. A second reason is a desire to defend those that are less intimately related or involved in the discussion, and as such less able to personally defend themselves. A final reason is that she genuinely does have a different opinion each time.

      The important factor is HOW she goes about opposing her boyfriend. As the above article discusses, there is nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone, as long as it is done calmly and respectfully.

      Unless you are personally offended or incriminated by her behaviour, it is not your place to assume how your friend feels. If you want to, you can mention to him that you notice his girlfriend disagrees with him a lot and talk about it from your perspective. If he isn’t personally affected by what you describe then there isn’t really an issue.

      In general, the only time to get involved in someone else’s relationship, leaving your own agenda aside, is if there are obvious requests for advice. Even in my role as a professional relationship coach, I only give advice to those requesting it in some manner.

      Thanks for commenting,

      Sam

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