Relationship Skills - 4 Tips on How To Fight
1 - Define What a Fight Is
It’s a perfectly natural occurrence in the course of any relationship: disagreements, arguments, and fights are going to happen.
But don't forget: Normal is relative.
Did you ever watch an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond and observe the way Frank and Marie yell and scream at each other? When you saw that, did you cringe and think, My God! How do people live like that? Or did you laugh and nod knowingly.
Some houses are yelling houses. In them, people grow up expressing their emotions on full volume. To them an escalated heated shouting match is nothing but pre-dinner banter.
Other homes are not so emotionally charged. The people that grow up in them are more reserved and vocally conservative. To these people, raising your voice is saved for very rare moments.
Neither is wrong. Neither is right. But it is damn important that you know which one you lean toward and which one your partner leans towards. Relationships take communication, compromise, and sometimes work.
Tip Number One: Define what a fight is. Is your partner yelling because that’s how she communicates? Is your partner getting freaked because you’re yelling? Learn how you both engage in heated conversations. Learn how to speak so that your partner can understand where you are on an emotional scale, and at the same time learn how to listen and gage their place too. It doesn’t do anyone any good if one of you is fighting, and the other one isn’t.
2 - Fights Are Temporary
The fight is temporary. The marriage is forever. This may be the hardest part of fighting for most people.
Don’t get so focused on the fight that you lose sight of the bigger picture. There are things you could say in the heat of the moment that will win you the argument. But they will lose you the war. They may be things that can never be taken back: Things that once said, are out there forever.
If you stay focused on the actual argument there is less room for error here. Argue about what you’re actually arguing about – not about every thing that has ever bothered you, or everything that will put your partner off their game.
Some lines not to cross are obvious. Words like ugly, stupid, or fat, should never be acceptable between two people in a loving relationship. But some things aren’t as clear. You’ll need to be open with each other and above all else you need to respect your partner’s openness and honesty trusting you with the knowledge of the things that really hurt.
Maybe he’s really sensitive about having to drop out of college. Maybe she’s really regretful of the number of guys she was involved with in the past. From a clear headed perspective it’s obviously cruel to bring up either of these things in an argument about who forgot to pay the rent. But you’d be surprised how easy it is for words like dumb or whore to come out inappropriately in a fight. Be aware of the slights as well. Saying, "Any idiot knows this will ruin our credit," is a zing, and you know it.
This is not ok. Fight fair. It is the mark of a truly mature, respectful and stable relationship: the ability to fight fairly.
When my husband and I were first married and would begin to argue about something, I noticed that each time before he spoke, he would take a long pause. I finally asked him what he was doing. He told me that when he gets upset, before he says anything outloud, he says it to himself first and thinks: How will I feel about having said this thing a year from now, to my wife. He told me if he thought it was something that would really hurt me, or really hurt us, even though it might be a good chess move in the fight, he would choose not to say it.
Better advice has never been offered.
3 - Fighting Is Private
In the heat of the argument the phone rings. You answer it. It’s your mother in law. Does it really take an outside source to tell you it’s not OK to scream into the phone, “Do you know what your son just did??”
Or maybe you’re in the middle of the argument and the doorbell rings. Your guests have arrived. Or it’s time for you both to leave for work. Or your argument begins while you're at a family function. It is going to happen that you will be in the throws of a fight when life gets in the way.
One of the most relationship altering things you can do is to disrespect the privacy you share together by involving other people. Of course sometimes you need your girls, or you need your mom’s advice. Sometimes you need some imput and help. But that comes after the fight, when you’ve calmed down but still need to talk through how to go forward on an issue.
If you’re still yelling on the inside, it’s not time to discuss the argument with anyone else. Tip number four – finish the argument. Let it come to some kind of close. If you want to talk about it with someone you trust afterward, tell your partner that’s what you’re going to do first.
4 - Never Go to Bed Angry
It’s so cliché. It’s been said again and again. And there’s a reason for that: It’s true. You don’t ever want to walk away from the person you love showing anything but that sentiment - that this is the person you love.
You just never know when it will be your last chance to tell someone how you feel.
The only reason you might have to go to sleep fighting is that you think it shows your strength in the fight. That thinking is sad. You should want to show your strength in your love instead.
This is the big key, the big secret about how to fight, and how to stay in a happy relationship – never confuse which one is more important: the fight or the marriage. It should always be clear that your marriage is more important. It should always be clear that when you’re fighting, you are fighting for your marriage, not against it.
Fighting is Work
There are many skills you need in life. Learning how to fight fairly is a lifeskill like any other. Fight to win and you'll lose alot. Your relationship is not a chess game. It's not possible for there to be a winner and a loser. If that's how you're seeing your arguments, then you both lose.
Everybody Loves Raymond - The Fat Fight
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