Conflict activates the reptilian part of our brains, which makes us fight, flee, or freeze. But you can get out of that trap if you pause before reacting—and fully understand what your partner is communicating. Try to quiet whatever is going on in your head so you can truly hear your partner. Really listen, then say, “Let me see if I get what you’re saying. You feel [insert info here], correct?” Make sure your partner sees you trying to hear accurately. Then give him or her a chance to expand: “Can you tell me more about that?” Maybe you even say, “That makes sense.” Then it’s your turn to share how you see things. Even if your original stance is unchanged, this sort of exchange decelerates the energy and calms you both down so you can have a dialogue. — Helen LaKelly Hunt, PhD, cofounder (along with her husband, Harville Hendrix, PhD) of Imago Relationships International. She is based in McLean, Virginia.