My husband and I have a tough time reconnecting after a fight – even when we both agree that the actual fight is over. How can we really let go of whatever we were arguing about and just be cool with each other?
Stuck in argument purgatory
Dear Stuck in argument purgatory,
Let’s first recognize the fact that you’ve worked out the problem and come to a resolution. Give yourselves credit for that because not everyone reaches this point.
And then let’s talk about that thin layer of grit and grime left behind after a really good fight. It’s unavoidable – like the hangover you get when you know you’re drinking too much but you don’t really want to stop yet. I’m sure there was a point during your fight when you knew you shouldn’t have said that, but you were so angry that you let it fly anyway. And now you’re not drunk anymore, but you sure are dehydrated/feeling guilty/you were on the receiving end of the hurtful words, and you can’t figure out how to truly let it go.
I’ve lost the metaphor, but let me offer four argument hangover cures that are sure to encourage that feeling of reconnection.
4) Remember that – ultimately – you two are on the same side. This can be tough after spending an hour (if we’re conservative) arguing for opposite things or feeling as though you weren’t being understood. But really, if your relationship is fundamentally sound then the two of you are teammates who can disagree and then get back to playing together.
3) Pretend it never happened. This requires some Jedi mind trickery, which is super handy in many circumstances so why not master the skill for this purpose? I’m not saying forget what happened or the outcome of the argument – especially if progress was made or a new agreement was forged. I’m just saying pretend all the good stuff existed without the fight and move on.
2) Hug it out. The power of the hug is undeniable. Even a casual embrace raises levels of oxytocin in the blood – promoting a sense of contentment and reducing anxiety. These things are exactly what you need after a fight. You’ll also need to ignore the cynical voice in your head telling you to stay away from your partner because right now, the best thing to do is move closer… closer…
1) Have sex with each other. I’ll see your hug and raise you two naked people. (Or something like that. I don’t gamble.) You see, another fabulous side effect of hugging is that it will often make you want more. Sex is the positive redirection of all that energy and emotion you expended on the argument. Doing it will remind you both that you have much better ways to spend your time.
(It always worked for David and Maddie.)