Has your once-healthy relationship turned into a constant battle? Are you at the mercy of your anger and find that everything your partner does pisses you off?
Do minor disagreements about mundane activities snowball into massive arguments that are openly hostile and emotionally damaging for both of you? Do you find other aspects of your life are being negatively affected by this cloud of aggression following you around?
It’s no secret that pent-up anger can cripple a relationship, and if you’re reading this, I’m going to guess that this has happened to you.
The good news is that there are a number of practical techniques you can begin using today that can quickly de-escalate tense situations and keep tempers from flaring out of control.
Ideally, reducing anger in a relationship should be something that both partners commit to, but that doesn’t always happen. That being said, I’m going to provide you with a set of actionable techniques that you can practice by yourself or with your partner when one (or both) of your tempers start to flare.
With the right mix of conscious effort and consistency, you can change your relationship with anger and maintain harmony and love in your relationship.
It isn’t always going to be easy, but if you do your best to be mindful of the situation and commit yourself to fixing things, you can wholly transform the dynamic of your relationship.
And with that, let’s explore nine techniques that can douse the fire of almost any heated disagreement.
1. SEAL the deal—use a US Navy-approved breathing technique for stronger emotional control
Everyone likes to tell you to take a deep breath when you’re upset, but very few people understand just how powerful breathing can be when used effectively. But don’t take my word for it: just look at the US Navy SEALs Box Breathing technique.
This particular breathing technique is just one of many that are out there, and I encourage you to experiment and find one that works for you. That being said, I think starting with a breathing technique used by some of the toughest guys on the planet is a good place to start.
After all, if this technique works in the heat of combat, it should certainly be able to work when you’re in the middle of a heated discussion with your partner. It’s a fairly simple, inconspicuous technique that you should have no problem practicing, even in the middle of a conversation.
The name of the technique comes from the fact that you divide your breathing into four steps as if you were breathing along the four edges of a box. All you have to do is inhale for 4 seconds, hold that air in your lungs for 4 seconds, then exhale it for 4 seconds. To cap it off, hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds and then repeat the process.
The key to effectively using this technique—or any breathing or mindfulness technique, for that matter—is awareness. Practicing the technique itself is just as important as instinctively knowing when to use it.
For a highly trained Navy SEAL, techniques like these become second nature, but there’s no reason you can’t train yourself too. Of course, an argument with your partner is very different from a combat situation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use consistency to get these situations under control.
For example, the second you start to feel your anger swell, make it a point to default to this (or your preferred) breathing technique. And don’t just save it for arguments with your partner; use it throughout your daily life.
If some asshole cuts you off when you’re driving home from work, use the breathing technique. If your boss embarrasses you in the middle of a team meeting, use the breathing technique. Whenever you start to get angry, use the breathing technique.
Even if the situation changes and your anger quickly fades, you’re conditioning yourself to react differently to the stress.
2. Sleep tight to avoid the fight
Here’s another piece of age-old advice you’re probably quite familiar with: “Never go to be angry.” Cliché as it may sound, there’s some serious science behind why nighttime arguments are so common.
First off, it’s common for one or both partners to turn to alcohol to unwind after a hard day at work. Unfortunately, alcohol can sometimes increase feelings of aggression because it disrupts normal brain functions.
Even without alcohol, the average workday can be so stressful that evenings feel like a keg of dynamite just waiting for a spark. Many people feel like they are forced to repress their emotions throughout their day, and this pent-up aggression carries over when they return home.
And then what happens? When you come face-to-face with the first person who you actually can get angry with, you get angry. As the day winds down, so does your mind and body, and simple misunderstandings and miscommunications can turn into volatile cocktails.
Think of it this way; you wouldn’t step into the ring for a boxing match when you’re run down and exhausted, so why would you step into an argument with your partner? Optimal performance—whether you’re at the gym, the office, or the dinner table—relies heavily on physical and mental readiness.
So, what’s the solution? Consider setting limits on the things you and your partner will discuss in the evening hours. Make a conscious (and mutual) decision to let serious discussions wait until the morning or another suitable time.
Explain to your partner that this isn’t about avoiding the problem but simply about discussing it when you both have a clearer head.
I once had a client who claimed to have only gotten into an argument with his wife once in the past three years, and he claimed that this method was what allowed for such an impressive streak.
Admittedly, this man was extremely grounded, level-headed, and in complete control of his emotions. The secret to making this technique work is being able to objectively view the situation.
If your partner says something to you that feels like an attack, you can either take it personally and react with hostility, or you can acknowledge the fact she is probably just tired, exhausted, and out of patience.
Being the alpha male is all about being in control, and whether you realize it or not, you have total control over tense situations like these. You’re not avoiding; you’re strategizing.
3. Lessons in restraint: win by letting them swing
Floyd Mayweather is considered one of the best defensive boxers of all time. He once said, “I’m not going out there to take no punishment.” It’s a simple statement that perfectly encapsulates the true art of boxing, a balance between attack and defense, between action and inaction.
Now, let’s clear the air before we go any further: your relationship isn’t a boxing match. Your partner isn’t your opponent. But there are parallels we can draw from boxing to help better manage our relationships, especially when it comes to anger and arguments.
What set Mayweather apart from many of his contemporaries was his ability to demonstrate extraordinary restraint. He was a master at avoiding blows, letting his opponents tire themselves out while waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
In the context of a heated discussion with your partner, imagine if instead of throwing jabs—quick, heated responses—you learned to master the art of restraint, to dodge those emotional ‘hooks’ and keep your cool.
By doing this, not only do you avoid escalating the argument, but you also give your partner space to express themselves, to “tire out” their anger, so to speak.
Adopting this strategy doesn’t mean you’re just silently taking the hits. It means you’re actively listening, assessing, and controlling your responses. It’s about knowing when to speak and when to hold your tongue.
Restraint requires discipline, patience, and a good deal of self-awareness. It means recognizing when your anger or frustration is pushing you to react impulsively and choosing instead to step back, breathe, and respond thoughtfully.
In boxing, they say, “The best defense is a good offense,” but in our relationships, sometimes the best defense is just good defense. It’s not about winning or losing but about understanding and empathy. And remember, just like Mayweather, it’s not about taking punishment but about intelligently navigating the punches of life and love.
4. Take a lesson from famous leaders—learn the power of non-reactivity
Winston Churchill. Barack Obama. The Roman statesman and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero. What do all these men have in common? They’re masters at the art of debate.
Do you want a simple and effective way to reduce the amount of arguments you’re having? Just being able to convincingly articulate your point of view, keep calm under pressure, and—most importantly—not react impulsively when provoked can often stop an argument from even happening in the first place.
We’ve all been there; a discussion starts off civil, and then, out of nowhere, your partner throws out a barbed-wire comment. You feel the sting, and the urge to snap back swells up inside you.
Remember, though, that this is not a battle where you need to retaliate immediately. Remember, this isn’t a fight (even if we commonly refer to them that way); it’s a conversation, a chance to understand and to be understood.
What it really is is a debate, and like any other debate, it’s essential to keep your emotions in check.
When you let anger or frustration take the wheel, it not only clouds your judgment but also prevents you from hearing what your partner is actually saying. More often than not, these reactive responses only fan the flames of the argument rather than resolve it.
Being non-reactive, however, doesn’t mean you ignore what your partner is saying. Instead, it means understanding their point of view and responding to it respectfully.
Take a page out of the book of great debaters and use techniques such as paraphrasing, where you repeat back to your partner what you understood from their argument to ensure you’ve got it right. This demonstrates to your partner that you’re not just hearing them but actively listening.
It’s also essential to ask open-ended questions instead of getting defensive. This allows the conversation to flow in a more positive direction and shows your partner that you’re interested in their feelings and thoughts, not just in making your own point. More often than not, a well-thought-out question can help reveal the faults in one’s logic.
Even if your partner is trying to incite a reaction out of you, remind yourself that it’s not about winning the argument. It’s about maintaining respect, empathy, and understanding. It’s about moving forward together, not apart.
So next time you feel your temper flaring up, do some breathing exercises, remember the lessons of great debaters, and choose to respond, not react. It’s one of the best ways to keep the peace and maintain mutual respect in your relationship.
5. Reduce the temperature by mastering the art of chill distractions
You know those moments when the argument’s dial has cranked up past 11, your blood feels like it’s boiling, and every word seems to add fuel to the inferno?
Yeah… we’ve all been there. In these instances, when the verbal boxing gloves are out, and all your strategies seem to have gone out of the window, there’s only one move left to make—walk away.
To be clear, I’m not talking about running from the battle or turning a blind eye to your partner’s emotions. I’m talking about a tactical retreat—a necessary move to restore harmony in your emotional landscape.
Think of it as what it actually is: a sign of respect. Respect for yourself, your partner, and the bond you share.
But retreating isn’t just about stepping off the battlefield; it’s what you do once you’re away from the heat. You need distractions. Effective, healthy, and mind-resetting distractions.
Let’s start with physical activities. Feeling your blood roar in your veins? Channel it. Break into a swift run, have a workout, or slam a few punches into the bag in the corner of your garage.
You’re not just distracting yourself; you’re turning a negative force into a positive. Plus, studies have shown that exercise reduces anger levels and helps you from getting triggered in the first place.
Next, consider a mindfulness technique. Whether it’s a Zen-like meditation session or a breathing exercise like the one I mentioned earlier, quietening the mind can help you reset the emotional barometer.
And if you’re the creative type, use the situation as an outlet for expression. Sketch, paint, write—whatever. Did you know that the entire premise of The Sopranos—one of the most critically acclaimed Mafia dramas in modern memory—was all inspired by show creator David Chase’s tumultuous relationship with his mother?
The point is no matter how frustrating the situation may be, it’s up to you to turn it into something productive. Remember, we’re not trying to escape the issue but to regroup and rethink. We’re seeking a healthier perspective and a calmer mind.
In the end, it’s all about knowing yourself and identifying what best calms your nerves. So, the next time you find yourself in a heated verbal standoff, grant yourself the liberty to step back, relax, and give yourself a healthy distraction.
6. Keep it in the ring: leaving arguments where they belong
Picture this: You’re standing in the boxing ring, adrenaline at its peak, sweat pouring down your face. Your opponent has been consistently landing blow after blow and has undeniably gotten the best of you that night. The bell rings, the round ends, and you go to your corner. Now, imagine stepping out of that ring and throwing punches at everyone in the front row of the arena.
Well, in a relationship, that’s exactly what happens to many people. When you let the echoes of an argument pervade your interactions with your partner (and others) outside the ‘ring’ of that specific disagreement, you turn into a person that no one wants to be around.
You may have ended the argument, but if every conversation after that is tainted with leftover anger, resentment, or frustration, you’re still throwing punches, and that’s just not healthy for anyone.
It’s essential to draw boundaries around your disagreements and to leave the “fights” where they belong. When the discussion, debate, argument—whatever you choose to call it—is over, it should stay over.
If you can manage this, your relationship will improve greatly. Unfortunately, many people can’t do this. A minor disagreement over a bag of potato chips turns into a massive battle over something that happened five years ago.
When you feel your temperature rise, you need to do your best not to dredge up the past in the current conversation. No low blows or cheap shots that revisit old wounds. No veiled jabs wrapped in seemingly unrelated discussions. Those arguments are over; leave them in the past.
What’s more, it’s crucial to remember that each disagreement is its own separate ‘match.’ Just because your partner was upset about one thing yesterday doesn’t mean they’re automatically on the offensive today.
Remember, you and your partner are—ultimately—on the same team. It’s not about winning or losing individual rounds; it’s about growing together, learning about each other, and resolving conflicts in a healthy way.
And if it really feels like the two of you are locked in a constant battle with each other, that’s something you need to address sooner rather than later.
7. Be your own hero: the courage to say you’re sorry
It’s easy to put on a cape and play the hero when all you have to do is be strong and stand your ground. It’s a whole different ballgame when you have to lower your defenses and admit you were wrong.
But make no mistake; there’s a profound strength in acknowledging your errors—a strength that’s often the unsung hero of healthy relationships (or life in general, for that matter).
Saying you’re sorry isn’t about losing or admitting defeat. It’s about recognizing that your relationship is more important than some petty argument.
The key is understanding the difference between a shallow apology and a sincere one. “I’m sorry you feel that way,” is a far cry from, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. How can I make this right?”
Remember that apologies are not just about words. It’s about taking accountability for your actions. Let’s say you’ve lobbed a low blow during your disagreement—unearthed an old wound, or said something in the heat of the moment you didn’t actually mean. Acknowledge it. Admit that your words or actions were hurtful, and convey your regret sincerely.
Apologies are also about changing behavior. You must show your partner through your actions that you’re dedicated to making amends and avoiding repeating the same mistakes.
So, flex those humility muscles. Swallowing your pride may seem like a bitter pill, but the harmony it brings to your relationship could make all the difference.
Remember, even the strongest warriors have their moments of vulnerability. It’s not their invincibility that makes them heroes; it’s their unwavering dedication to doing what’s right. Be the hero in your relationship—apologize when you’re wrong, make amends, and be the bigger person
8. Sift through the rubble and become a stronger couple
Once the dust has settled and the echoes of your argument have faded, it’s time to journey into the rubble, sift through the remains, and uncover the lessons that lay hidden beneath.
If you and your partner are caught in a perpetual cycle where you destroy things but never work to rebuild them, it won’t be long before you do irreparable harm.
Instead of focusing on winning the argument, work on resolving it in a way that stops it from happening in the future.
The only thing that needs to win in the end is your relationship. It’s vital to learn from your past mistakes so you don’t fall victim to the same pitfalls again. It means being aware of what led to the anger, taking responsibility for your part in it, and making a conscious effort not to repeat those actions.
I am sure you know or have met a couple who constantly argue about the same nonsense over and over and over again. You—as an outsider—see it for what it is: petty disagreements between two people who have problems that lie deep beneath the surface.
Just do yourself a favor: make sure you’re not in the same situation yourself and are simply turning a blind eye to it.
Growth is an integral part of any relationship, and conflicts, disagreements, and arguments are all part of that growth process. They’re opportunities to learn more about your partner and, just as importantly, about yourself.
9. Seek the help of a support group
I truly believe that there are two types of people in society: those who have experienced the transformative power of a personal or professional support group firsthand and those who haven’t.
And I’m telling you, anyone who thinks they can accomplish everything on their own without a support group is delusional. Building a strong connection with like-minded men can be the single best thing you do to improve all aspects of your life.
Whatever you’re going through, whatever problems you may be experiencing, you are not the first man out there to deal with them, and I can guarantee you will not be the last.
So rather than swallow your angst and keep it bottled up inside, why not find a group of strong, grounded, self-aware men to talk to about it?
You’re only as good as the company you keep, and I believe that is more true today than ever before. Look, the average man of this generation simply can’t compare to the men of yesterday.
Men have—for the most part—become soft. They complain about their problems, go on rants about how they’re going to take control of their lives, and then do absolutely nothing to better themselves.
And who can blame them? After all, society has conditioned them to be this way.
That being said, if you’re really looking to make a change in your life, the single best thing you can do is change the company you keep. Stop hanging around with losers, complainers, and people who like to bitch and moan about their lives.
No one likes to be around those people, except, of course, people are like that themselves. Do you want to know the secret to optimize your performance in all walks of life?
Surround yourself with winners.
It’s that simple.
And if you’re ready to mix up your social circle and make a change for the better, you’re in the right place to do it.
At Knowledge for Men, my team and I pride ourselves on the fact that we can provide real men with real solutions to their everyday problems. And while the path toward bettering yourself will most certainly not be an easy one, great things can come if you apply our teachings.
And again, this is a serious solution for those of you who have serious problems. This isn’t about stitching yourself up with “feel good” remedies that do nothing but mask the deeper problems.
In other words, this is for the men who truly want to change. If you want to embark on a journey toward greatness and reclaim your masculine energy, propelling yourself into the role of the alpha, this is where you do it.
If you want to whine about your best, make excuses for your actions (or inactions), and continue on with the cycle of constant complaining, then do us both a favor and look somewhere else.
But if you think you’re up for the challenge and are really ready to seize the life you always wanted, click the link below to get started. It might just be the best decision you ever made.