5 Rules for Relationship Peace

This is a guest post by Hugh DeBurgh

Dear Friend,

It was an ugly scene.

She had just thrown something at the wall.  I could tell from the sound that it did some damage.  For a second I imagined that sound being my head.  And I wondered how we had gotten to this point.

It was a stupid argument.  I don't even remember what started it.  And I had no idea how to end it.

Sound familiar?

Maybe your “lover's quarrels” are a bit more mundane.  Or, God forbid, worse.

Ever wonder what we can do to lessen these unpleasant conflicts with the ones we love?

According to Scientific American magazine, all fights come down to two things:  one person either feels neglected or controlled.

It seems that Baylor University psychologists recently interviewed 3,539 married couples. They asked a lot of relationship questions related to the subject matter of their arguments.  These researchers were trying to understand why couples fight.  The assumption had been that the results would point to the usual culprits – money, sex, etc.

But, after the data had been carefully analyzed, it turned out that the tension that actually led to the fight itself almost always related to the deeper issues of whether the partners felt understood or valued.

One partner might feel neglected by the other, and to them this means that the other partner does not value them sufficiently or understand their needs.  Or a partner might resent feeling controlled by the other and believe that the other partner does not value or appreciate their unique approach to life.

So it is the nature and degree of interaction between the partners that determines how they get along.  Too little interaction, or too imposing interaction, and things heat up.

Both of these relationship mistakes have one thing in common.  They lack mindfulness and presence.

When you deal with your partner, it is essential that you be there.  That you be present and conscious of your partner during interactions.

  • Note their emotional state.
  • Listen to their words.
  • Acknowledge their humanity.

In each of the cases identified in this study, one partner was ignoring the other.  They were either acting as if the other wasn't there, or as if the other was a mindless appendage of themselves, to be directed rather than respected.

The idea of being constantly present in a relationship sounds exhausting.  In truth, few of us can pay attention all of the time.  We are often tired, or in emotional turmoil ourselves, and so have little to give the other.

That's OK.  It only takes a few moments a day of focused attention on the ones you love for them to get their full daily dose of your love and affection. Healthy people don't need you constantly.  But when they do need you, you need to be conscious and focused on them.

So, what can you do to make sure you and your honey stay on the wide, smooth path to relationship intimacy?

Here are my 5 must-do rules for keeping the fight monster far away:

1.) Remember to take a few moments everyday to focus on your partner. Listen to whatever it is that they want to say.  Don't judge or feel the need to answer them right away.  Just listen.  And make sure that they know that you are listening.  Good eye contact is critical.

2.) When you are talking to your partner, take a sec first and check your emotional state.  If you are in a generally angry or grumpy mood, gently cut conversation short.  Little good comes from conversations when you are in a bad mood.

3.) When you are angry and your anger is already focused on your partner, step away from the situation.  Try to keep your mouth shut.  You won't solve the issue with words at this point. You'll just make it worse.

4.) Discover a way to get your anger out without your partner being present.  Many people pick up a solo sport like running are hitting a punching bag.  It gets rid of the worst of the negative feelings and it's good for your health, too!

5.) Whenever you think about it, remind your partner how much you respect and admire them for the unique person that they are.  And ask them to remind you when you inadvertently ignore their needs or independence.

Conflict and relationships go hand-in-hand.  However, there is a big difference between a disagreement and a fight. That difference is the level of tension and emotional blindness to the others feelings.

These 5 relationship rules are designed to reduce the opportunities for tension, keep you emotionally aware in those moments you might otherwise not be, and to communicate to your loved one, in words and in deeds, that you really do respect and love them for who they are, even if you are grumpy once in a while.

So, follow these 5 rules and watch the arguments fade away.

Best of luck!


Hugh DeBurgh, The Passionate Warrior, has dedicated his life to the achievement of the ultimate family lifestyle. You can find him writing about Creative Family Lifestyle Design over at his blog, The Way of the Passionate Warrior. Currently he is on the second leg of a worldwide travel adventure with his wife and four young children.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 12 comments
  • Jeff Nickles

    I just wished that someone could have poured this advice into my brain 20 years ago. It would have saved me from a lot of fights. My marriage has survived and I’ve learned to do more of what you suggest here, but it sure would have been a smoother ride if I’d only understood these things sooner.
    .-= Jeff Nickles´s last blog ..Efficiency Thwarts Happiness and the Good Life =-.

      Hugh DeBurgh

      Hey Jeff!

      You and me both, brother.

      Maybe that’s why I am so driven to get the word out. If all of us could just save a few others from our own mistakes, we would’ve done something good on this Earth.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Hugh 🙂

  • Christopher Lovejoy

    Some good insight here on the two main sources of tension in a close, intimate relationship, viz., neglect and control. The suggestions offered here for negotiating this tension are generally spot on. One thing I would add is that if you’re not feeling up to sharing real moments, or having an extended conversation, make this clear to your partner, along with some assurance that you’ll do so when you feel more able and willing.
    .-= Christopher Lovejoy´s last blog ..Radical Transparency =-.

      Hugh DeBurgh

      Beautiful Christopher!

      I agree. It’s about communication.

      Talking AT others is not communication. It requires listening and understanding. And sometimes it requires patience, too.

      Great comment!

      Hugh 🙂

  • Tess The Bold Life

    Hi Hugh,

    I think for me one thing that goes hand and hand with no. 4 is journaling. I can go for a run and get my anger out but I may still need to figure out how my buttons are being pushed. What is my part in the conflict? Then I can discuss it in a respectful manner. No matter what the issue I’m always responsibile for my part. Nice article!
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..March of a Blogger- What Penguins Can Teach Us =-.

      Hugh DeBurgh

      Hey Tess! 🙂

      As a thinking person it is only natural that you turn to a thinker’s tools to get to the bottom of an issue.

      The physical activity that I wrote about was aimed at releasing emotional energy. The journaling would be aimed at the substance of the issue at hand.

      First, eliminate the clouds of emotion, and then focus on the issue with intellect.

      Sounds like a winning strategy to me!

      All the best as always,

      (BTW, thanks for the ops to guest post at The Bold Life ;-))

  • Wendy Irene

    Thank you for giving me the gift of seeing things in a different light!
    .-= Wendy Irene´s last blog ..No – It’s Just a Word =-.

      Hugh DeBurgh

      Thanks Wendy!

      I hope it comes in handy!

      All the best,

      Hugh 🙂

  • Joe Wilner

    Good article with some helpful tips. I think that relationship troubles come down to miscommunication. More specifically one partner reaching out another drawing back. This leads to one feeling neglected or the other feeling smoothered. Either way relationships take serious work and effort and people need to be willing to grow in their relationships. Thanks!

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  • Raquel

    My 18 year marriage is I such turmoil! I have pushed my husband too much & he has never been an emotional guy. He has shut down & resents me..I want to work on it & he is willing to go & has been going to counseling. We hurt each so much in recent months. I’m trying to stay positive for me & my three girls. I hurts. I need some encouraging words.

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