What’s that? You don’t just have “issues” – you have a subscription? You don’t want to bring up all those small things in your relationship because you don’t want to “fight”? Trust me on this one: Small stuff becomes big stuff if you stuff it and refuse to share. Speaking of stuffed crust…Did you hear about the guy who took a second job as a pizza chef? He kneaded the dough. Lol. But seriously, expressing feelings eases tension and anxiety. Not only is it good for you emotionally, it is healthier physically, as well.

“But we always end up in a tug of war, yelling or even name-calling.” Well, that’s where your savvy and smarts come in. You wouldn’t dream of playing basketball without mad skills, would you? So what’s your expertise and know-how on fighting? Don’t have any? No worries. Allow me to share a few starter techniques and tactics, please. Instead of tug o’ war, play hug o’ war.

Do you think man invented language just to satisfy his deep need to criticize and complain? Attack the issue, not her. If you feel the need to dress down or do a number on him, condemn an action instead of a personality trait or the person himself. And by all means, enter a stress-free zone first. When in doubt, chill out. If you hear yourself saying “You always” or “You never” …stop. Remember, the atmosphere should feel safe so that your friend or loved one feels respected. After all, it’s you two versus the problem, not you versus him.

Hmmm, so you’re not familiar with the sensation of wrong? That’s okay. You can always start with: “I’m sorry we’re fighting about this.” And please do not bring up the past. Keep the train on the rail. Resolve the issue at hand without igniting emotions about unresolved issues from the past. Remind yourself that those who love you say good things behind your back and bad things to your face. It’s called honesty. Heck, honesty is the best policy but insanity is the best defense. Then again: Anyone who says “The truth shall set you free” has never been to traffic court. But I digress…

Please do not go silent or shut down. Going quiet at a vulnerable time leaves an open wound and makes it appear as if you do not care at all. If you feel too overwhelmed or stuck, tell your friend, but do not simply leave. If you find yourself going out of bounds, take a breather and calm yourself down however you can, please.

Have some hitches or headaches in your relationship? Don’t we all. But guess what? If you close your eyes, that doesn’t mean they no longer exist. So say what you mean, but don’t say it mean. Fighting isn’t communication. It’s noise. Remember that dealing with your problems won’t end your relationship, but ignoring them might.

Don’t be too stubborn to forgive or too proud to apologize. Try to bear in mind that fights are never about the surface issue. They are about unsaid, untreated, and unhealed wounds. They say that ten percent of conflict is due to difference in opinion; 90 percent is due to delivery and tone of voice. Know that having problems is not a problem. But do not act without thinking or think without acting, my friends.

You know what they say: People talk too much. Humans aren’t descended from monkeys. They come from parrots. Please figure out exactly what you are squabbling about. Are they needs, or wants? Preferences and opinions, or beliefs and values? Don’t lose sight of your aim: to feel closeness, and to gain understanding and respect for each other.

Humor is truly your best friend. If you can make her laugh long enough to forget her problem, your day was not wasted. Texting? Never get into an argument with anyone who types faster than you. Lol. And while it is fine to seek advice from friends, the best person to talk to about problems in your relationship happens to be the person you are in a relationship with. Remind yourself and each other that your friendship or relationship is more important than being right or “winning,” Ask each other: “What can we do to make things better right now?”

Oh, and when a couple is arguing about who loves whom more, the one who gives up is the winner. The truth is: You can be right, or you can be happy.

Please cultivate trust, sweet friends. A relationship without trust is like a car without gas. You can stay in it as long as you want, but it won’t go anywhere. As always, feel free to reach out. I’m right here.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.