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Keep Your Cool

Ask nicely for what you want when you’re calm. “The first 15 seconds of a conflict set the tone and are a good predictor of how satisfactorily it will be negotiated,” says Dr. Herwitz. “Be respectful and polite, because the moment your partner senses hostility, at best he will tune you out and at worst he will attack.” If you’re about to explode because you feel like a single parent with a spouse who’s more clueless than you ever could have imagined, table a discussion. “When you feel your blood starting to boil, tell him that you need to take a break but you’d like to talk as soon as you calm down,” suggests Dr. Herwitz. Typically 10 to 30 minutes will suffice, but depending on how you’re wired, it may take hours before you’re ready to engage. During that time, do something that actively takes your mind off the subject. (Not so easy if you're consumed with rage...maybe playing Angry Birds will do the trick?) When you’re ready, thank him for giving you space and communicate calmly about what’s on your mind.

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