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Arguing – or at least discussing things with different emotions – is an almost inevitable part of a long-term relationship. Not only that, but whether you notice it or not, a lot of the disagreements (or fights, arguments, or whatever you want to call them) usually concern the same basic issues in your relationship.

Even if the fight starts to revolve around something entirely different, there’s a good chance you’ll somehow have the same argument again that you had with your partner countless times before.

It can get to a point where you feel like you are caught in a cycle of anger, disappointment, and frustration towards your partner. But loud Dr. Margaret Rutherford, a clinical psychologist and the author of Depression hidden perfectlyThere are ways to stop this pattern. Here are some tips from her, from a recent one Interview she did with Fatherly.

Illustration for article titled How To Break The Cycle Of Having The Same Argument Over And Over

Don’t let resentment build up

Many people will do everything in their power to avoid conflicts of any kind – especially with their partner. Instead of letting your partner know if he’s upset or irritated by something, just hold onto it and don’t say a word. But Says Rutherford This is the wrong approach, and resentment builds up over time:

No, that doesn’t mean that I start picking fights – although we all blame it from time to time – but that we say, “Hey, just to let you know.” X pissed me off about Y, so I would appreciate it if you were Z. “Yes, we all need to know when and where to address issues, but it’s better to bring up something small than holding it all down and then exploding.

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Don’t label your partner as a way to automatically blame them

As humans, we love to organize things into categories and use that information to explain certain situations rather than having to think them through completely. This can happen in relationships too, says Rutherford, when we declare that our partner has a certain quality that blames them for many of your struggles. “How often do we label each other?” she asks. “We say, ‘You’re a spendthrift or you’re greedy or you’re out of control.’ Nobody wants to be labeled. “

Instead of taking this approach, Suggests Rutherford Ask yourself why this particular argument makes you so angry so often:

For example, try saying, “I’m scared if you spend money because I grew up in a family where we didn’t.” Speaking clearly about yourself will give you a deeper understanding of where you are from and your partner can share this too. Ultimately, you don’t know anyone who says, “This is the impact your actions have on me.”

Illustration for article titled How To Break The Cycle Of Having The Same Argument Over And Over

Bring up contentious topics if you’re not already angry

If most of the fights you have with your partner are either directly or indirectly related to a specific issue (like money, parenting, the house, etc.), Rutherford recommends discussing that issue when you are not mad at each other rather than at the heat of the fight. “Risk being vulnerable and express what you really feel,” she said says fatherly. “Don’t be afraid to ask for your partner’s help.”