If you are involved in a relationship, eventually you are going to get into a fight with your significant other. It’s just human nature. We all have individual needs and desires, and sometimes those desires metaphorically butt heads with what our partner wants.

You’ve probably heard something along the lines of, “It’s not if you fight, but how you fight.” I definitely think there’s some truth to that statement. But I think there’s something at least as important: how – and how quickly – you make up.

If you’re the type to hold on to your anger for a while, and especially if you punish your partner after a fight (for example, by giving him or her the silent treatment), you probably want to rethink your strategy.

Why? Because acting this way is not only bad for the relationship, but also for you. When we wallow in anger and resentment, it negatively affects us on a physiological level, causing stress, tension, and worse. And, of course, the longer we treat our significant other poorly, the more they will feel pushed away. In fact, the only real reason to engage in this kind of behavior is if pushing them away is your goal.

So what do you do?

How to Get Yourself Let Go and Make Up Fast

The problem with dispensing advice like, “Just let go and make up already” is that it’s a lot easier to say than to do. But for your own good – and that of your relationship – that’s exactly what you have to train yourself to do.

Want some good news? Making up doesn’t mean you actually have to verbally apologize or work through the issue right away. It’s just a way of indicating to your partner that this isn’t going to pull you apart.

How exactly? Well, animals fight and argue, but pretty much across the board, they also know the value of making up as fast as possible. So learn from nature.

Get physical. Usually within a few minutes, animals who argue are licking each other, playing around, grooming their former opponent, or something similar.  So give your partner a hug. Share a kiss. Squeeze their hand. Whether you engage in these specific apology behaviors is up to you, but you don’t need to feel limited by them. Just offer some kind of physical connection that carries the message “I’m sorry we fought, but things are okay.”

Just be in the same space. Not quite ready to touch? Patas monkeys “apologize” by sitting close to each other. So if you’re the type to storm out and want to be alone, try sitting down and watching some TV  together or a similar activity that says, “The issue may not be resolved, but I still like you.”

Come up with your own method. Some people have safe words when sex gets too adventurous or when arguments become too heated. It’s an agreed-upon code to back down and cool off. Well, you and your partner can create a similar “code” for making up after a fight. Some couples have a sort of in-joke they share to let their partner know that they’ve cooled down. Others may open their door (if they’ve retreated to another room) or offer a specific object to their partner that they’ve designated as a “peace treaty.” Your method will be unique to your relationship.

Interested in discussing more methods or having trouble getting them to work in your relationship? A Portland marriage counselor can help. Get in touch and we’ll work to get your relationship back on track.