Step 1: Stop the Bleeding
The first step in first aid when someone is bleeding is to apply pressure to stop it. The first step when a couple is in continuous conflict is to stop the bleeding as well. Continuous negativity has one of the most toxic effects on relationship quality and satisfaction. If your arguments leave you feeling like you have been in a boxing match, your relationship can not sustain through this for a long period of time without experiencing some steep consequences.
A first step is to agree as a couple to stop a fight when it starts to enter the point of no return. Establish a line of when an argument is productive and when it is harmful. Some examples of this line might be: shouting, name calling, making threats about leaving, tit-for-tat arguing (you did this…but you did…only because you…), bringing up the past, etc. The key isn’t where the line is drawn but that you both agree to hold the line. You must have this conversation when you are both calm and not in an argument.
Stopping toxic fights can give your relationship the space and safety to reassess and heal. Once you stop the bleeding, then you can assess the damage and work to repair it.