Every now and then, even the most loving of couples will get into an argument that may rattle the windows and will definitely rattle the hearts of those involved. Experience dictates that most of the power in these unfortunate encounters comes from unhealthy behaviors.

Check it out. Recall the last time you and your mate argued with each other. Did either or both of you bring up past issues? This is done to deflect responsibility and avoid discomfort. It usually makes the issue worse and may create additional problems.

Instead of getting defensive and escalating, here are some additional tools you can choose to use that will help you avoid hurting your relationship or shutting down your own heart.

Choose your words carefully. Don't swear or use inflammatory language. Say what's on your mind and in your heart in a way that won't make your partner defensive or angry. In the heat of the moment, this can be challenging, but a careful consideration of what is being said can make the difference between a resolution and a battle.

Don't raise your voice. When someone is yelled at, it can feel like they are being assaulted. Raising your voice is a form of verbal abuse and can be very frightening for people of all ages and sizes. Children are especially vulnerable, but I've never met anyone who liked the experience. Try being an adult and sharing your feelings without raising your voice to get your point across. By yelling, what you are really doing is expressing your own pain through anger. Don't do it.

Look into your heart. It may help to ask yourself a few questions. Are you angry at the other person or the situation? Does this individual deserve your wrath? How would you respond if someone said to you what you are saying to your loved one? Doing a quick evaluation of your true feelings will give you a different perspective and perhaps help you to feel your way through the issue rather than see it as a win-lose proposition.

Ask for what you really need. Could your ire have been calmed with an apology or a hug? If so, ask for what you need directly without making a scene. If a conversation or clarity is needed, and you've been stewing for a little while, say so. It's best to be open about your feelings as soon as circumstances permit.

Don't drink and discuss. If alcohol or drugs are involved, you are not going to be coming from a clear place. If either of you is under the influence, it's best not to try to have any kind of serious communication. It may be hard to remember this rule if you've been sipping martinis all night, but if you make an agreement with your partner that deep discussions are off limits when you're partying, it might help.

Using these guidelines will help you to keep tempers in check and may prevent you from saying things that could permanently damage your relationship.

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