Spending 24/7 with the significant other in the comfort of home may seem like the most blissful thing ever. Only it’s not, as many couples can attest, when you are spending your nth day with zero personal space.

Suddenly, every little thing – from the way he or she moves, eats, parents or handles work stress – can start to prick your nerves. And before you know it, you’ve said some nasty things, which send both of you down a negative spiral.

While times are tough, your relationship shouldn’t have to take the brunt of the pandemic. Here are some ways you can try to make things better after a tense moment gets out of hand.

1. Find space

Remove yourself from the combative, defensive zone as soon as you can. Whether it’s retreating to another corner of home, taking a long shower or going out for a walk, distancing yourself can help to clear your mind and look at things from another perspective. If you need an extended period of quiet time, let your partner know so that he or she can respect your boundary.

2. Find the right moment

When you are ready to talk calmly, your partner might not be. Avoid the times when he or she is hungry or bogged down by work.

3. Be vulnerable

Instead of obsessing over who’s right or wrong, first acknowledge that these are trying times for everyone. Share your worries and invite your partner to do the same. Be honest about what each one can do to help alleviate these feelings.

4. Mind your language

Avoid going on and on about what irks you during a fight. Aim to be constructive when you have to let something off your chest. Some conflict resolution experts call this the XYZ method. This is how you should phrase your thoughts. ‘When you do X, it makes me feel Y. Is it okay if you do Z instead?’ If it’s your first time attempting this, rehearse this in your head beforehand. (This technique also works well at the workplace when you need to have uncomfortable conversations with colleagues.)

5. Don’t feel bad

Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge the negative feelings as they arise and try to exhale them away before you start to say anything. And if you’ve said something you regret, don’t wait to apologise.