Fighting can be done right, wrong, and all shades in between. We are imperfect people, living together, managing each others expectations. We are bound to ruffle feathers and incite rebellion, but how do we handle these situations? Do we use them as an opportunity to enrich our relationships or boost our egos? Here are three ways fighting can actually improve your relationship and how to make it happen.
Hash It Out
Why: It is so important to discuss marital issues. If done properly, arguing with your spouse creates an outlet to air out your frustrations. It gives you an opportunity to discuss issues that would otherwise have been left to fester and turn into resentments. It is beneficial to speak our minds in these instances, but it is essential to speak truth with love.
How: Fighting should not be used as an opportunity to spew hatred at your spouse and label it “venting.” It should be used to unload frustrations in a constructive manner. For example, you could call your husband “a lazy, worthless jerk who never helps with the dishes,” and this may let you release some steam; however, it will not have the same impact as asking your husband to “help a little more during the dinner clean up, so that we can finish quickly, and everyone ends up with a little me time at the end of the night.” In one instance, you’re attacking your partner, and in the other, you’re collaborating. These distinctions are essential to actually working through issues because your partner is more likely to listen to a proposition of hope than a declaration of shame.
Why: Do you tend to have the same fight with your husband over and over? Yev and I really work to try and resolve conflict, instead of fighting about the same topics over and over. I would say every argument we have is geared towards finding a solution. I’m not interested in having the same debate for years. Now, we’re obviously not always successful because we’re fallible humans, but the goal of every fight is to find out what happened and how we can prevent it from happening again.
How: One way to do this is to focus on process, not content. We can try to fight about all of the minutia, or we can get straight down to how it made us feel. Sure we can fight about what we said to each other specifically, or we can just say, “Your comment hurt my feelings. I felt dismissed and belittled. Can you respect me enough to say it differently next time?” An effective response would be, “How would you like me to rephrase it, so you can receive it?” Now you may think this is crazy talk, but Yev and I actually talk like this 😂
Learn Something New
Why: I’ve found that every argument makes me feel closer to Yev, and it also gives me an opportunity to learn something new about him. We’ve been married almost 6 years, but there are many parts of him that are still an enigma. It seems the more I learn about him, the more I realize how little I know.
How: Every time we have a heated discussion, he reveals a little piece of himself: an insecurity, an emotional trigger, a childhood wound, if I’m engaged enough to see it. The only way for this to happen is if I’m listening and staying focused on understanding his perspective, instead of winning the argument. If someone feels defeated, is anyone actually winning? With this new knowledge, I am able to tread more carefully when we discuss certain topics. I don’t use this information as a weapon but as a guide, a filter through which I can see his perspective better.
What tips have you picked up on the journey of learning to fight fair?