12 Things to Never Do After a Fight

Relationship fights may seem like the end of the world, but it's completely normal and healthy for couples to disagree. Here's how to make sure your arguments are productive, not destructive.

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Things To Never Do After Fight - Couple sitting on couch away from each other
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Don’t: Act like nothing happened

Ignoring what started a relationship fight or pretending it never happened isn’t a wise idea. “Sweeping it under the rug assumes your partner is satisfied with the outcome. But making a clear effort to reconnect is the key to a successful outcome. Sharing what you have learned after a fight can help repair the damage,” says Lesli M. W. Doares, a marriage consultant and coach with a private practice in Cary, North Carolina, and author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage: How to Create Your Happily Ever After With More Intention, Less Work. “And, make no mistake, there is always damage.”

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Things to Never Do After a Fight - Couple sitting apart on the couch on their phones
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Don’t: Share details of your fight on Facebook, all over cyberspace, and to anyone who will listen

It’s normal to want validation for how you feel from friends, family, and anyone who will listen. But your fight isn’t for public consumption. “This can be really damaging to the trust your partner has for you,” says Marni Feuerman, a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Boca Raton, Florida. And once you put something out in the public forum, you can’t take it back. And people will likely judge your relationship—not for the better.

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Things to Never Do After a Fight - Woman crying at edge of bed
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Don’t: Let too much time pass before you resolve it

The longer the argument festers, the angrier you’ll feel. “By letting time slip by, you’re going to lengthen the disagreement and continue to suffer from the stress associated with it,“ says Stacey Laura Lloyd, health and relationships writer, and co-author of Is Your Job Making You Fat? How to Lose the Office 15…and More! “In addition, with the passage of time, it’s more difficult to recall and agree upon the exact factors that caused the conflict in the first place, making it even tougher to resolve.” Once you’ve had some time to cool off, revisit the issue and work it out.

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Couple post-argument
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Don’t: Be stubborn and not accept his apology

“By not accepting his apology, you’re continuing to punish him and communicating that no matter what he does or says, it’s not good enough,”says Laurel House, a dating and empowerment coach on E!’s Famously Single. And it could be the signs of a deeper issue.

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Things to Never Do After a Fight - Couple standing apart on the lake shore with arms crossed
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Don’t: Bring up the argument in the future

If the argument has really been resolved, then why bring it up again? “Holding something over your partner’s head is not loving behaviour and will not result in a healthy, successful relationship,” says Doares. If something was said that bothers you, don’t keep getting in jabs, even after you’ve allegedly reached a resolution. You’ll only end up talking in circles and not resolving anything.

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Things to Never Do After a Fight - Couple fighting while sitting down
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Don’t: Make up excuses for the fight

Stress, feeling under the weather, commuter traffic. You can blame an argument on just about anything. But don’t pass the blame on why you fought. “Excuses give you a chance to seem like you’re weaseling out of any responsibility,” says Jim Walkup, a licensed marriage counsellor who practices in New York City and White Plains, New York. Be honest about why you’re fighting.

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Things to Never Do After a Fight - Couple ignoring each other on the couch after a disagreement
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Don’t: Say you didn’t mean it

“Whether you meant it or not, you said it, you did it and you can’t take it back,” says House. “You can’t make it go away, so saying that you didn’t mean it is not only pointless, but can be infuriating and shows that you fight dirty and mean, which aren’t healthy or productive ways to ‘fight.’” If you say that you didn’t mean it, you won’t work to a resolution for the future. And that’s the goal of a fight in the first place.

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Things to Never Do After a Fight - Couple sleeping in bed away from each other
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Don’t: Have makeup sex if you don’t want to

It’s great that you’re done fighting, but if shifting gears to doing the deed is the last thing on your mind, it’s fine to say you’re not in the mood. “Sex is about love, intimacy and caring, about warmth and connection,” say Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz, love and marriage experts and award-winning authors. “The time and your emotions have to be right for sex to be enjoyable and intimate.” He just may want a roll in the hay to feel close to you again and reconnect.

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Things to Never Do After a Fight - Close-up of a couple talking at the table
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Don’t: Focus on the cause of the fight

Did your husband forget to get diapers at the store though you asked him to do so as he walked out the door at 8 a.m.? Instead of replaying the incident in your head, spend your energy on finding a solution for the problem. If he seems to be forgetful lately, sit down with your partner on a different occasion and bring up the issue, says Lisa Hochberger, M.ED., a sexologist, sexuality educator and relationship expert. In this case you might say, “I notice that when I ask you to pick things up after work, you forget to do it,” says Hochberger. “What can I do to remind you of errands we need done for the house so you don’t forget?” Try and support your partner, not be judgmental, she adds.

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Things to Never Do After a Fight - Couple arguing at the kitchen table
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Don’t: Give him the silent treatment

It’s fine if you need some space after a fight. “Ignoring your partner will only amplify the hurt and anger,” says Antonia Hall, MA, a psychologist, relationship expert and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life. Just don’t give him the cold shoulder without telling him. He may feel like he’s being punished if you ignore him, brush him off or shut him out.

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Things to Never Do After a Fight - Couple arguing on the couch
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Don’t: Be hard on yourself that you fought

Don’t beat yourself up over an argument. Fighting can be a good thing; it shows that you’re invested and working at the relationship. You care enough to get to the bottom of your issues. “In fact, not fighting at all is a sign, too,” says Feuerman. “Some arguments, if they’re able to be resolved, should actually bring you both closer together.”

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Relationship Fights Couple Couch - Couple arguing on the couch
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Don’t: Use hurtful words to describe your partner

After you’re done disagreeing, don’t resort to name-calling and hurtful words, says Mike Goldstein, founder and lead dating coach of EZ Dating Coach. He suggests using simple, easy-to-understand sentences or even one word to help your partner understand how you feel. For example, you might say, “When you ignore me when I get home from work, I feel alone in our relationship.”

Next, check out these pieces of marriage advice from the 1950s that still apply today.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest