And it comes down to a single word.
Writing for the Daily Mail, Runkel explains that when couples fight they tend to use each other’s weak spots – like fears and insecurities – as ammunition. Saying the word ‘ouch’ will highlight your vulnerability and signal that you don’t want to continue a destructive war of words.
“Saying: ‘Ouch, that hurts’ doesn’t guarantee your partner will come out of attack mode, but it certainly increases the chances,” Runkel says.
“He or she will become more aware of being in attack mode, if you admit they hurt you.”
Runkel adds that in a difficult situation, the US marines say that ‘calm is contagious’ – by taking the high road and a deep breath, your partner is likely to respond accordingly.