The ability to change course in the middle of a fight is a powerful relationship skill. Most people do not have it. We can be so predictable in our arguments, so petty! Talk about the three A’s when you are both calm and relaxed. Practice them. That way you’ll be ready to use them as the antidote if your talk turns poisonous.
It’ll take a little courage to use them the first time. Someone is going to feel vulnerable. Do them in sequence. It should only take a minute. You can even preface by saying Okay, this is not working. I’m going to do a triple A.
Apology — Take ownership for your part of the argument. Be honest. You’re trying to change the energy of the argument. Don’t take the easy way out by saying something like I’m sorry you’re being such a jerk.
Affection — As soon as you’ve apologized for your part in the argument, move towards your spouse. Offer a hug, a kiss, or reach out in some affectionate physical way.
Action — Pledge to take some sort of action. It’s better talk about something that you will do rather than something that you won’t do. I will treat you with respect is better than I will not call you names. Either way, follow through is the most important thing.