When 'kiss and make-up' isn't quite enough

Disagreeing with your sweetheart is bad enough, but sometimes the tension seems to linger even after the conflict is over. So what's a spouse to do? Check out these tips to diffuse tension in healthy, happy ways.

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  • Even in a practically perfect marriage, spouses will occasionally disagree. This is completely normal, but sometimes the hardest part about a disagreement is feeling like it’s really ended. Has he said everything he wanted to say? Is she really no longer upset? At times like these, the tension seems to hang in the air, and neither party knows what to do.

  • That’s why I offer these ideas for diffusing tension in your home. By finding ways to reconnect, relax, and relate, your arguments can change from roadblocks to speed bumps as you simply move on. Here are some other ideas on how to resolve conflict in your marriage.

  • Turn on “your” song and slow dance in the kitchen

  • Instead of getting overly discouraged or throwing a full-blown temper tantrum when tension doesn’t disperse, turn on the song you danced to at your wedding. Pull your spouse into your arms and take those three-and-a-half minutes to just enjoy being close. Think of the happy moments that you associate with that song, or think of the wonderful things about your spouse that caused you to pick that song. I do this with my husband every month or so, and it can completely turn around a stressful day and make it into something lovely.

  • Get some exercise

  • It could be that your brain and body are craving some of the chemicals that you can from a rousing argument, but you can get those without hurting your spouse. By going for a run or jamming to some hardcore tunes, you get moving and then can wind down again in a healthy way.

  • Find something to laugh at

  • When my husband sees that I’m stressed or discouraged, he starts making silly faces. This always makes me laugh, even if it’s reluctantly at first. It makes a world of difference to have fun together, and I am so grateful he knows that. If silly faces aren’t your style, tell a ridiculous joke or playfully nuzzle your spouse’s neck. With this tactic, make sure the conflict really is over, otherwise your spouse may feel that you don’t take his or her feelings seriously.

  • Go do something else

  • Give your sweetheart a kiss and find a new project to get involved in. The after-fight tension is so consuming sometimes that it’s hard to think of something to say to your spouse that is unrelated to the disagreement. Take this as a signal to get involved in something else for a little while, so that you can approach your spouse with a fresh perspective. Finding something else to do also helps you to have a little more emotional independence, giving you a little more maturity. That makes you an asset rather than a liability.

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  • Do you ever have those days when you and your spouse just seem to be out of sync? It starts out with a normal disagreement, and then no matter how many times you say “I love you,” everything you say seems to start another conflict. During these times, it’s important to find ways to make a clear end to the conflict at hand. Add a little romance, get moving, crack a joke, or just find a distraction. No matter what you do, just remember that after the fight, your spouse is still yours, and that’s pretty amazing.

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Sara Hagmann is a stay-at-home wife and writer who loves traveling, cooking, and kissing her husband. A lot.

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