I think all couples fight.
It’s a part of being in relationship and it’s completely unavoidable. When you are together with someone for any length of time, there are bound to be disagreements and personality clashes. So to me, it’s not a question of IF couples fight, but HOW they fight that I’m more interested in.
I’ve worked with enough men who tell me they don’t fight with their partner and then when we get into why things aren’t working in the relationship, a lot of time it’s because things in the relationship go unexpressed for harmonies’ sake.
Personally, I don’t trust other couples who tell me they don’t fight. I think fighting is a sign that you and your partner are growing together and facing the challenges that you each need to be facing, so when a couple tells me that they don’t fight, I immediately wonder if they are growing together, or if they are doing the right work with each other.
What I’ve found is that with these couples, oftentimes they don’t fight because one person will suppress their expression so as to not make the other one mad or just agree with the other party to avoid an upset. Now this is a strategy that I’ve even employed myself from time to time, however this generally leads to resent towards your partner later on down the road and ultimately I’ve found it to be ineffective as the conflict that comes out later is multiplied exponentially from all the things that have gone unexpressed.
So fighting is a natural and healthy sign in a relationship, and yet, so many men I meet hate that it happens, myself included at times. I know I’ve had a few experiences where the fighting has been so intense that I just wanted harmony in my home no matter what the cost. Now I’m not saying that you should be fighting everyday or that you should be tolerating any forms of abuse at all. I’m simply saying that conflict and arguments in a relationship are normal.
So with that being said, here’s a short guide I’ve put together about some of the things I make sure to use when my wife and I aren’t seeing eye to eye.
- Don’t try and avoid it. What I mean by this is that chances are, you have some idea of when your partner is upset. So by dealing with it, rather than pretending that they aren’t upset when you know they are, bring it up and talk about it. I know any time I’ve tried to avoid upsets with my partner, it’s only ever gotten her angrier and prolonged it. I know that chances are if she’s upset with me, she’s feeling something and that it’s my job to get what she’s feeling and understand it. When I do that, I’m much more successful at diffusing our arguments versus when I try and avoid the conversation.
- Don’t be defensive or argue with them – This one is pretty straightforward. Even in arguments, I like to say when you lose, you lose and even when you win, you lose. Validate what they are feeling but don’t try and correct them or get defensive about what they say – see the next point for more on this. Try seeing things from their perspective and offer feedback like “I can see why you feel that way”… This can go a long way to having your partner feel heard.
- Validate what they are saying and how they feeling. Even if you don’t agree with it, and you don’t have to, you can still validate and appreciate what they are feeling. The fact is, from their perspective what they are feeling makes complete sense, that’s why they are feeling and saying it! Trying to invalidate your partner’s feeling will only spur on the conflict and won’t help resolve anything. This way you honor your truth and hers without invalidating how they are feeling.
- Stay in close proximity and have contact with each other during the argument. It’s really hard for an argument to blow up further if you are touching your partner. The next time you are in an argument, try this, spend the entire argument holding their hand and no matter what happens during the argument, don’t let go. You’ll be surprised how you both react and more importantly what you say and don’t say when you are holding their hand or are in physical contact with them.
- Avoid name calling – this is a big one. No matter what they say to you and how they say it, don’t respond by calling them names. This will only make matters worse, not better and for every name you call them, it collects interest. The more interest it collects, the worse it will be in future arguments or upsets. Your partner deserves your utmost respect and also, most have long memories when it comes to disrespecting them by resorting to name calling.
- Try and have fun or inject humour into the argument. What I don’t mean by this, is not to take what they are saying seriously. Listen to what they are saying and don’t dismiss it. BUT try and laugh at yourself every once in awhile or make a joke about the whole thing. If you can keep it light, then chances are you’ll be able to resolve it quickly. The more you are too serious about it, the more likely it is that you may react defensively or get triggered yourself.
These are just a few tips you can use when it comes to fighting with your partner. Practice using them and remember that nothing is perfect on the first go especially when using new tools so don’t be afraid to screw it up every once in awhile. Also one of the things that might come in handy is to print this list out and put it somewhere you can reference it for later. Here’s to a great fight!
To your relationship success,
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