Fighting and arguments are inevitable in every relationship. Whether you are married, in a long-distance relationship, or enjoying a blissful new romance – things are bound to get heated. The honeymoon phase will pass and your sweet paramour will find the absolute worst time to inch onto your last available nerve. It’s normal & it happens. What sets you apart, is not only how you engage with the fight but what happens before and after. After years of being with my high school boyfriend-turned-husband, these are a few of the things that I’ve learned when it comes to being in a fight club.
When You Feel A Fight Coming On…
Like a cold, you have to handle a fight before it becomes full-fledged. When things are bothering one of you, you need to tackle it head-on – no matter how much you dread having that conversation. The best time to tackle a difficult conversation is in person (if possible) and when you are in a comfortable place. No one wants to get into a rager before a big meeting or when you’ve just gotten home from work. One thing that used to drive me crazy about Sahir is that when he knew I was upset about something, sometimes he would just try to ignore it and hope it goes away (more on that later)… Uh, no way buddy. It just made me angrier. Is that a word? More angry?
Now, I try to share how I’m feeling as it happens after giving myself a little time to process. One of my best friends told me that when she and her husband feel a fight coming on one of them will grab the other’s hand and say something to the extent of “look, I know this feels important right now but please remember that I’m madly in love with you and you’re madly in love with me and in a few hours we’ll be cracking up together again.” It’s true, and its best to start and end a complaint with a compliment. A little compliment sandwich if you will.
Most of the time, that’s enough to just eliminate the argument altogether and sometimes they still have to talk things out, but it always helps us remember that this fight is temporary and they’ll be best friends later.
One thing I’ve learned is to try to avoid using the word “mad”. It sounds silly, but by eliminating that word from your vocabulary it forces you to describe how you feel in other ways. It made me _____ when you did/said/ate _______. Insert: sad, disappointed, stressed, uncomfortable, etc. We swear by this method, so give it a shot the next time you feel something bubbling below the surface. You can read more about this strategy in this post!
42 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR PARTNER
When You’re In The Heat Of A Fight…
Get out of the kitchen! Actually, don’t do that. That advice sucks. It’s true that some people just need to remove themselves from the situation temporarily, but going hours or days (yes, some people go days) without talking or dealing with your issues is a bad idea. I remember watching an episode of HIMYM where Marshall and Lily have a system where they can pause their fights at any point and go eat dinner, talk about other things, hook up, etc and then unpause at will. Let me know if that works for you.
When we’re in the heat of it, we usually try not to yell at each other and just separate for a few minutes to get our thoughts together. Here’s what I recommend: have some fight club rules. Rules you ask? I’ll explain.
For Sahir and I, this means no cursing at the other person, definitely no name-calling, and no matter what – no using the “D” word. We never, ever, throw around the word ‘Divorce’ it’s not on the table and not something to throw out in the heat of a fight. Every couple fights, but you need to set ground rules to make sure you don’t go past a point of no return. For a non-married couple this could be “we should take a break” or “let’s break up”
Moving On From A Fight…
One of the hardest things is to move on from a fight. Interestingly enough, it’s amazing how resilient men usually are. Figuring out how to move on from a fight is challenging no matter who is involved. It’s taken Sahir and I years to develop our dynamic and it’s always changing. Some people need time to process the end of an argument and others are able to move on more quickly. Be in tune with your partner and understand that people need space and time. Try to learn something from every time you fight, if you are in it for the long run, trust me… you’ll need the experience.