All couples have heated discussions or arguments. In fact, if you are in a relationship that doesn’t experience disagreements, arguments or fights in your relationship then there might be a lack of honest, open communication somewhere. We call bullshit on couples that tell us “Oh we never argue,” or “I can’t remember the last fight we had.” We get it. You don’t want your drama to show its face to your friends or new lifestyle acquaintances. Listen, relationships are made of two individuals, with different opinions, perspectives and experiences. When those two individuals fall in love and come together, there are bound to be discussions and differences of opinions.

The key to a healthy relationship isn’t to never argue, but instead to learn how to fight fair. Just know that you are not alone. Full transparency, it seems that my wife and I have been arguing more in the last few months. It could be a result of stress, job changes or parenting struggles. Arguments aren’t a sign of trouble necessarily. They can be healthy if you know how to follow the rules of engagement. So we were inspired to put together a little post on some key things to remember when you get into those heated lovers quarrels.

• Remember that people filter messages.
When communicating, there are two types of filters. External filters and internal filters. If you’re trying to have a conversation with the TV going in the background, that message is probably being blocked by the external filter of the television. Turn the television off to have a serious discussion about something important. Also, we filter messages by internal filters. Internal filters are past experiences, impressions or perceptions. If your partner crossed boundaries in the past, a discussion about boundaries now might bring up those past feelings that they will filter it by. Be patient, you might have to re-explain yourself.

• Communicate honestly.
Instead of shutting down, communicate your need. You might need to walk away for a minute to regroup. Let your partner know you’re going on walk, but also express you’ll be back to talk later and pick up the conversation. Trying to communicate in a heated emotional state is difficult for anybody. Use feeling statements like “I feel” or “I need.”

• Practice active listening.
Most of us only listen in order to respond. This is because of our super busy lives with work, kids, school etc. Keep in mind – your partner isn’t a work boss. They deserve empathetic listening. Listen with an open mind and really seek to understand where they are coming from. Sometimes if you take a second to put yourself in their shoes, you might be able to resolve a conflict better.

• Look at the big picture.
Take a step back and think of what could have started the argument. Is there something going on in one persons life? Is it “that time of the month?” Has it been sometime since a good connection between you two has been made? Be sensitive and understanding. Emphasize you are for each other because external things can impact moods.

• Put assumptions aside.
Be in the present because people grow and change. Just because someone acted a certain way in the past, doesn’t mean that person is going to necessarily continue on in that behavior. Assuming, especially the worst, makes an ass out of u and me.

Give your partner the benefit of the doubt, especially if there is no actual facts relating to your beef. Even if there is, still give them the benefit of the doubt. Your relationship is more important than being right isn’t it? Ask questions to gain more clarity if needed.

Be encouraged if you feel like you and your partner haven’t been getting along lately. We all go through these struggles. Getting into a heated debate, discussion or all out fight is OK. One side note though, it’s NEVER ok to put hands on your partner or use belittling terms and put downs. If there is physical or verbal abuse you’re experiencing in your relationship, you should seriously consider getting professional help and leaving that relationship. Worst case scenario, if you’re not able to settle things on your own or work through them, there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting professional couples counseling. The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom has a list of kink aware professional counselors you can reach out to for help.