Stress can be hard on couples. Whether life is just too busy, the children are sick or difficult to manage, or there are financial strains, couples often end up taking things out on each other.

When adults become frustrated, they often revert to a more childlike level, perhaps without even realizing it. Attacking or blaming one another is what competing siblings might do. Name-calling, putting the other down or taunting also belong to the category of childhood coping strategies.

Children resort to these strategies because they do not know any others.

Adults should have the ability to realize when stress is building, and to take preventive action to stop things from deteriorating. When children fight, it is clear to us that both parties are contributing to the problem. When adults fight, the same is true.

While we cannot control the actions or behaviours of the other, we can stop ourselves from regressing or participating in an unhealthy process. Take a time out. Get focused on solutions. You will be much further ahead if you are both on the same team.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning psychotherapist.