If you are in a stormy relationship that you want to grow into a healthy one, it may be useful to call a truce. Here are some ground rules that you can consider adopting while in your truce so that you can function together while working things out.

The guidelines are meant to create a space of safety and willingness to negotiate. If there is a little peace, perhaps all parties will be motivated to sustain it. So the goals are to refrain from creating more problems, don’t stir up old problems, and build on the love that is the foundation of the relationship.

The Don’t List

No blaming. Blaming is destructive and has no benefits. When you blame, you give all your power away and become a victim. Someone else holds the keys to your happiness and current situation. That person is now hurt and put on the defensive because they’ve been judged. So this just tends to lead in a circle of hurt -> anger -> blame -> resentment -> retaliation.

No name calling. I don’t have to say that this is destructive and abusive, too, do I? If you want to create peace and love, it starts with your language. Speak with love. Speak softly. Use loving words. Thoughts are things. Words are manifestations of thoughts. If you think with peace, you will manifest peace.

Don’t take anything personally. It’s not about you. Even if it is, it’s not. It’s misplaced blame. We’re all responsible for our own “stuff.” In the end, we have to live with what we do, not what others do that impact us. If you learn this, your life will be infinitely happier.

The Do List

Call a time out. If things start to feel tense, call a time out before they go too far. The time out is a chance for both sides to cool off and regroup. You’re more likely to have a satisfactory resolution if you discuss things calmly than to keep battling in an unproductive way.

Honor the request for space. Some people need to move in closer when they feel unsettled. Others need space. If someone is asking for space, honoring that is a sovereignty issue. Everyone is allowed to decide what they want as long as it doesn’t encroach on the rights of others. This a sign of respect and self control. Healthy relationships need both of these things.

Take responsibility for what’s yours. This is the other half of not blaming. What matters more than who caused the problem is who is going to clean it up. If something is bothering you, do something to change it. If you broke something, fix it.

Be trustworthy. This is about telling the truth, being open, and reliable. If you want to negotiate, both sides have to trust each other. This can only happen in an environment of trust.

Speak clearly. Mean what you say and say what you mean. When you are vague, passive-aggressive, hint, or just hope that your partner reads your mind, it creates confusion. It’s much more effective to speak clearly. People feel safer when things are clear. You’re also more likely to reach your goals if the other person has the same understanding that you do. Speaking clearly helps that to happen.