Break Out of Your Relationship Ruts
Do the same problems crop up over and over? Try these expert solutions.
How to recognize it: You argue about the same things all the time and find yourself avoiding entire subjects because they trigger fights.
How to bust out of it: Take a vacation from the conflict at hand. "Tell your partner that the way you fight isn't working and you both need to take time off from talking about the issue," says psychologist Howard Markman. Put it aside for a few days and force yourselves as a couple to do things that you both love. (It's hard, but try.) Meanwhile, think about what's really bothering you: If you fight about chores or tardiness, consider whether a desire for respect or control is at the crux of it. After the break, set a time to talk about the issue, but don't try to resolve it. Take turns talking and listening to each other's points of view to understand what's at the root of the problem for each of you. "About 70 percent of small conflicts―about money, household tasks, in-laws―don't need to be resolved," says Markman. "Both people just want to be heard, and they need to stop fighting destructively for that to happen."
Want more relationship advice? Learn the secrets to a happy marriage from other Real Simple readers.