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How to Keep Your Relationship Fights Civil, Not Savage

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If you're in a passionate relationship, odds are it's filled with ups and downs. (So some women choose a stable relationship over sparks.) The part of your brain that makes you so hot for him is the same part that fuels your anger. That passion is exactly why fights can get ugly. These tips will bring the peace.

Look Ahead

Imagine how you'd describe the fight in a year from now. In all likelihood, you won't even remember what you were arguing about. People who tried this trick were able to let go of their grudges and forgive their partners faster, according to a study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. Seeing your disagreement from a distance gives you new perspective on it, allowing you to focus less on who said what and more on resolving the issue, the researchers explain.

Say These Three Words

"I feel you." Couples who believed their partners really "got" their side of a conflict were more likely to walk away happy about their relationship than those who felt misunderstood, research from the University of California, Berkeley found. Try repeating your guy's point of view, then asking "Am I hearing that right?" Resentment—gone. (Here are 8 common communication problems in relationships.)

Own It

"During arguments, your adrenaline is pumping and you're focused on winning the fight, not on finding a solution that works for both of you," says Logan Levkoff, Ph.D., a relationship expert and certified sexuality educator at the University of Michigan. Instead, take a breath and ask yourself, "What could I be doing better right now?" Levkoff suggests. Owning up to your part of the disagreement—being sarcastic, checking out, expecting him to read your mind—is difficult, but making yourself vulnerable encourages both of you to put down your defenses so you can move on.

Reach Out

Touch his arm, take his hand...any contact will bump up your brain's production of oxytocin, the love hormone (see: the amazing health benefits of cuddling). And in a recent study, researchers from the University of Zurich found that oxytocin slashes your production of cortisol. Without the stress hormone pumping through your veins, the study authors say, you'll instantly feel calmer and more compassionate toward your partner.

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