In every serious relationship since ever, people have fought over something. Whether is was something as mundane as who should take out the trash, to more serious issues of being caught cheating, fighting in a relationship is as common as having sex (sometimes, even more so). Fighting allows couples to bring issues to light that might have been bothering them for a LONG time. However, there are right ways and wrong ways to fight, and learning to fight fair can actually help your relationship become stronger.
Ok, so there are a lot of do’s and don’ts, but a major thing to keep in mind during a fight is self-control. How often have you gotten in a fight and totally felt yourself spewing forth every negative thing about your partner that came to mind? Well, try using a little self-control and understand that you are fighting to try to solve a problem, not prove that you are the better half (honestly, that gets old really fast). So here are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to smart fighting.
Don’t withdraw when your partner complains or raises a concern.
Guys are especially guilty of this one; you want to make your partner happy, so you figure by keeping quiet when they need to talk you are trying to keep the peace. Stop. Doing. That. As a lady, I have been in relationships where the guy thought this was a good idea and all it did was piss me off even more because I assumed that they just didn’t want to talk about our problems. Remember, conflict happens in any relationship and the worst thing you can do is ignore it by thinking fighting is wrong. If you aren’t ready to talk about a problem right at that minute, ask your partner if you can have an hour or a day to think about it, just make sure you take the time to talk.
A great tool when managing conflict constructively is a speaker-listener technique. This technique focuses on using calm, clear communication about issues that encourages both people to use active listening skills and increases the chances that your partner will actually hear what you are trying to say. Even better, this technique is designed to interrupt the cycle that happens when both sides don’t listen to each other during an argument. In order for it to work, one partner needs to ask to have the floor to speak using I statements (I need you to wear pants outside, I would like it if you could help me paint the dog’s toenails, etc.), while the other actively listens and then paraphrases what the speaker said once the speaker has finished talking. Once the speaker has finished, the couple switches positions and the procedure starts over until both sides have listened to each other’s complaints. Neither side can interrupt the other while the speaker is talking. I’ve often had to use this technique when in a fight with my boyfriend and I can say it does take practice, but it does pay off and makes our fights less intense and more beneficial.
Don’t get negative.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do in a fight is to not attack back. It’s a fight, so of course it won’t be a happy event. Avoid being sarcastic, disgusted, sour, or generally dick-ish because it will be very corrosive to your relationship. In fighting, bad is stronger than good, so using a negative fighting style will only create more negativity. Also avoid the “kitchen sink” method of fighting. A lot of times we want to lump all our complaints into one fight (talking about everything but the kitchen sink), but that can leave a partner feeling like utter shit, so avoid every minor complaint and stick to one to three topics at most to discuss.
Don’t get caught in a loop.
It’s so easy to respond to someone’s complaint about you with a negative complaint about them (your mom vs. your mom, for instance). If you keep throwing meaner and crueler insults at each other eventually one of you will win, and this is one part of life where you really don’t want to be the winner. If you need it, ask for a ten minute break to cool down, even leave the room if you have to. And when you come back, apologize for the last shitty thing you said, just fucking do it.
Don’t use infinitive statements when airing your grievances (“you always sing the Game of Thrones theme song,” “you never appreciate when I sing the Game of Thrones theme song”). In reality, your partner is not constantly doing (or not doing) whatever it is that annoys you, so start expanding your vocabulary away from “never” and “always.” Instead try using “XYZ” statements, “when you sing the Game of Thrones theme song before and after the show (X), I feel very irritated (Y), could you please only sing it when the theme song plays, perhaps (Z)?” Ta-da, just like that you can still say what bugs you without irking your lover.
Finally, if you do say something incredibly stupid (which we all do at some point), quickly say, “Oh my god, I was being such an asshole, can I please take back what I said, I did not mean it.” Hopefully your partner will understand that it was stupid and something that you wouldn’t have said were you not pissed off, and you can continue discussing the topic at hand.
Fighting in a relationship is something everyone does, and we all hate to admit we do it. But if you can accept that it is a normal (and healthy) part of a working relationship, then you can focus on making sure you both fight fair when you do end up butting heads. Don’t be afraid to compromise during a fight, sometimes you might not find an absolutely perfect solution to a problem, but you each can probably change one thing to satisfy the other (ok, I will wear pants, but I am not painting the dog’s toenails because he is a dog, dammit). By using the techniques listed above and using clear, concise, and considerate statements, you can have civil disagreements with your partner without having it feel like the war between the Lannisters and the Starks.
~ 4 Golden Rules Every Couple Should Follow During a Fight ~