The most delicate time in any relationship is right after you have had a big fight. Your sweetheart is still mad, you are still mad, and you know you should talk about your problem but you are afraid of starting another fight.
Or perhaps your pride is standing in the way – you believe that you were right, so why should you be the one to make up with your girlfriend?
Many couples take a “time out” after a fight, either by mutual agreement or, unfortunately, because one person has distanced themselves from the other by physically leaving.
Eventually, if you want to make up with your girlfriend, you have to come back together and talk about what is wrong. There are tried-and-true techniques for initiating that first, vital step towards healthy communication after a fight.
Here are the 5 steps you must take
1. Try to show your partner that your love for her is more important than the fight.
How you do this varies – one woman may need a hug after a fight, while another does not want to be touched at all while she is still angry. It could be a gesture, a smile, or just the words, “I am ready to talk whenever you are”or smilingly “Wasn’t that a blast?”
The worst thing you can do is to try and win the stand-off by outlasting her anger and emotional distance. Show you are able to get past your anger and work on being a couple.
2. Be honest about what you are fighting about.
If you have realized halfway through the argument that you might be mistaken but the momentum of the argument keeps you fighting, confess this to her. If you think that maybe the fight you had was not really about the dirty dishes but was, instead, the result of some other, unspoken resentments, get that out on the table.
But be aware that recreating the argument over and over again is not going to solve anything. If you cannot resolve it at all, maybe you can agree to put it behind you and move on. Differences aren’t necessarily bad.
3. Accept responsibility for your part of the fight.
It takes two to have an argument, and even if you still believe you were right, you still contributed to the blow-up.
Saying, “I am sorry, I over reacted” or “I admit that I may not have really been listening to your concerns” is a good start towards patching up your differences.
It is all too easy to blame the other person for a fight, to call them insensitive or stubborn, but usually it involves both parties not really listening to each other to turn it into a full-scale rumble.
So figure out what you did wrong and own up to it. She will be surprised and pleased, and odds are she will respond by admitting that she was wrong in some ways, too.
4. It is never too late to initiate communication.
If your “time out” has lasted for days, weeks, or even months, it can be awkward to approach your partner in an attempt to talk about what happened. There are a number of ways you can do it. A note or e-mail asking her to meet you for coffee is respectful and non-intrusive.
If you have come to the conclusion that you were the one in the wrong, flowers are a time-honoured conciliatory gesture, if accompanied by a note saying, “I miss you. Can we talk?”
The important thing is to ask nicely, and do not make demands. She does not owe you a conversation, no matter how much you want to have one.
5. Call the making up period what it is – a time of healing.
Talk about what you are feeling and admit to feeling hurt or vulnerable. The two of you may have to treat each other with extra kindness during this time, as it can still be painful to be together after the fight.
This is also a time to identify why, exactly, you had the fight. A blanket apology is not the way to solve problems.
Too often, we say “I am sorry” and then expect everything to go back to the way it was before.
But trust has been breached, and one or both of you may have trouble feeling safe in the relationship for a while.
Acknowledge that, and respect it.
There will always be disagreements in any relationship. It is your choice, however, how you deal with them. You can point fingers, blame each other, call names and hurt each other, or you can address your differences in a mature, adult manner, admitting to your own pain and vulnerability, and talking about what is wrong in a calm, insightful fashion.
So if you really want to make up with your girlfriend, be the one to reach out and get that conversation started.