A conversation with a female friend inspired me to write this article on the issue that I have been thinking to write about for quite a while now – fighting in a relationship. While most questions on fighting focus around preventing or dealing with fights, nasty arguments, name calling, and yelling at each other, my friend presented me with a different issue of equal or greater importance, but the one that is hardly ever been raised
– What if you feel too comfortable in a relationship? What if you feel like you don’t fight enough with your guy? What if you were at first happy that he would go along with just about everything you do and say, but now it irritates you that the guy you are with never confronts you, never calls you on your sh-t even when you clearly deserve it?
My friend is remarkably true… with herself. She admitted during our conversation that she feels she is trying to cause a fight just to wake her boyfriend up from that seeming state of apathy. She wants to see some strong emotion and some anger from him.
I could completely understand where she was coming from as a woman. She wanted to see that important part of a man in her boyfriend that makes him masculine and attractive. I assured her that while what she feels might not make logical sense, it is completely natural. Fighting in a relationship is completely natural, because disagreements between any two people are part of human interaction, especially if they care about each other and if they spend a lot of time together.
In our conversation today, I went so far as to say that fighting might just be a basic need that has to be satisfied periodically (like eating, drinking and using a bathroom). As we get to know each other, we will inevitably disagree and annoy each other at times. We have to confront each other about it in one way or another. This is totally normal. And this is exactly the reason why so many couples have these recurring arguments in between periods of great love and affection.
This means that you should not expect or promise to each other to never fight again. Making these types of promises is both unrealistic and unnecessary. As long you fight fairly by the “rules” and avoid the low blows, such as for instance bringing up things from the past that you already argued about and settled, fighting can be an invigorating experience, breeding new life into a relationship (and sex) upon make-up, hence the term “make up” sex.
Although there are few “perfect” couples out there who live happily forever after without fighting or even having conflicts or arguments, it is generally unrealistic to expect to be in a relationship totally free of fighting or arguments. Some would even argue that when a man and a woman don’t disagree on anything and never fight, it’s actually bad because that would suggests that they are indifferent toward each other and they simply don’t care or stopped caring, or that they are in a relationship which is boring and thus free of any fighting and controversy. It is only natural for the two people to run into situations where they hold opposing views or opinions or where one partner’s actions rub the other the wrong way and get him/her angry. This can be the very minor, mundane issues such as sharing expenses or household duties or a more significant issues, such as trust, fidelity, jealousy, temper issues, sharing common goals, etc. Thus, it’s well worth learning how to fight with your relationships partner the right way.
Learning how to argue and fight in a way that would not be harmful to your relationship (but could even be beneficial) is an important step toward strengthening the relationship and making it prosper rather than allowing it to be destroyed by a few fights that could and should be resolved. Here are three simple, basic rules that you should follow or do your best to follow when you find yourself fighting with your relationship partner:
1. If the criticism that comes from your partner towards you is deserved or even in part deserved, address the subject of the criticism instead of going off on the tangent and getting defensive by criticizing your partner back about something completely different and unrelated. For instance, if your partner seems to be upset with you because he/she thinks you are not as generous as they think you should be, don’t tell them that they are also cheap. Instead, talk about your spending habits and see where the differences in your expectations of handling finances lie. You should definitely not attack your partner by criticizing something completely unrelated about them, such as the way he/she cooks or cleans, his/her body, style, etc… This will do nothing good to your argument and will only fuel the fire of anger, which is in turn likely to make it even wrose and turn that smaller fight into a far more personal and nasty experience. toward each other when it can and should be easily avoiding by focusing on just one issue alone.
2. Don’t threaten to leave your partner or break up unless you really mean it, or unless it’s absolutely necessary to demonstrate how angry you are about the subject of the fight. Usually, it’s not a good idea and it should be the very last, if at all, resort. No one likes to be threatened. No one enjoys having ultimatums imposed on them, so telling the other person that you are about to leave will hardly resolve the conflict. It is likely to both show your lack of commitment to the relationship and working through the problems you might have, and it will also further antagonize your partner further. Besides, if you intend to threaten your partner that you will leave, you better be ready for the possible “go ahead and leave” on their part.
3. Don’t bring up past arguments that were settled into your present problems. There is nothing worse than a feeling that your partner brings up things that you thought were settled and for which you apologized for. When you bring up things from the past that you got over, it’s a sign of resentment towards your partner which should be a red flag to you and the other person. If you are not over a certain issue from the past, you should bring it up earlier and on a separate occasion. If you say that you are over it today, but then later you bring it up again – how can you partner believe you in the future that you truly forgave when you say you did. For instance, fighting about who will be doing the laundry or clean the kitchen should not the occasion where you bring up the fact that your partner has cheated on you 5 years ago. This will not help in anyway to resolve you relative mundane conflict, but is likely to bring up a lot of other issues that have no place in the present argument and would likely be counterproductive.
The above three rules of “clean” fighting in a relationship will not guarantee that you will be able to solve every fight and every argument, but these are very basic steps that you must take in order to handle conflicts in a way that would allow you to move past them, when your relationship is well worth working through these problems for the sake of the bigger picture – your mutual love.