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  • Flashcards Might Help End Your Couple Fights For Good (They're Worth A Try!)

    Using flashcards during an argument with your partner could also be fun, and can bring you closer to each other.
    by Rachel Perez .
Flashcards Might Help End Your Couple Fights For Good (They're Worth A Try!)
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Anyone who's been in a relationship knows it's typical to argue with your significant other. It's part of a healthy relationship. What's not normal is if you find yourself fighting with your partner often. It's exhausting and frustrating, especially if you argue over the same things repeatedly — okay, even if you're fighting over different issues, it seems the same, like a pattern. It's because the real problem is not what you and your partner are fighting about, but how you fight.

    "Because couples bring the same tools to the argument, they get pretty much the same results every single time," writes Susan Pease Gadoua L.C.S.W., a best-seller author and licensed marriage therapist from San Francisco, California, for Psychology Today.

    To break the cycle, Gadoua suggests using flashcards. Yes, as unlikely or weird as it sounds, a deck of cards with phrases printed on them might be just what you and your partner need to keep the peace — and for an extended time.

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    Flashcards can help change your fighting style

    Each person learns and stocks up their fighting arsenal with tools, such as shouting, name-calling, and sometimes hitting, between aged 5 and 7, Gadoua explained. So yes, it's not exactly mature. Thankfully, most adults outgrow the physical aspect.

    But even more good news is that as adults, we can unlearn all the kiddie fighting tactics and learn how to fight correctly and fair. It just takes a lot of time and effort. Like breaking any habit, you need to be aware of your triggers, change how you respond to them, and reap some kind of reward for modified behavior.

    Couple fights usually turn ugly after just a slight change tone, body language or facial expression, and a choice of one wrong word. "Learning the right words, tone, and facial expression to use for effective, adult communication after a lifetime of using childhood phrases is not unlike learning a foreign language," Gadoua stressed. It can be done.

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    For years, the marriage therapist had asked couples to write conflict catchphrases and calming words on flashcards, which couples can whip out when emotions start to get high. The cards gave couples new terms — and tools! — to navigate disagreements. Putting up notes with kind words on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror makes a huge difference as well.

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    What to write in your flashcards

    Writing your own flashcards together can be a good exercise for you and your partner. Plus, it gives the cards a personal touch. If you don't have an idea what to write, you can also take inspiration from find ready-made flashcards. Below are some phrases that always work.

    From a flashcard that says a simple "I love you" or "I just need time to think" to "Even when I am upset and angry, I still care about you" and "We are okay even if we want some alone time or quiet time" makes a significant impact. These statements foster emotional intimacy and care, Gadoua says, and are an excellent reminder to keep an open heart towards your partner.

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    To foster communication, you can also write questions on flashcards to start light or emotional conversations or just get to know each other more. Examples of these questions are, "What about me makes you smile?" or "Name a way you've grown in the past year."

    If you and your partner got off on the wrong foot heading into an argument, "Can we stop and start over?" is a flashcard that always comes in handy.

    If you want to be heard, a flashcard that says, "Can we use different words?" instead of a loaded phrase such as "Why do you always say things you know will hurt my feelings?" gives your argument a calmer tone. Gadoua explains that these phrases to express feelings in an already emotional situation "in a way that doesn't cause their partner to stop listening and go on the defensive.

    Find similar communication flashcards here, here, and here. For more relationship advice, click here.

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