August 11, 2017
Jess & Brandon on What We Fight About
Jess’ husband Brandon joins her to talk about their fights — the good, the bad and the ugly.
Fighting with your partner is not a sign that your relationship is doomed. In fact, the happiest couples fight and there are benefits to fighting:
- Smaller fights may help to stave off bigger conflicts in the long run
- Fighting helps us to adjust our behaviour in order to have more productive and loving interactions moving forward
- Fighting with positive resolutions can lead to greater relationship satisfaction as you become more honest, relieve relationship tension and communicate your needs and expectation.
Healthy fighting might involve:
- Active listening and an attempt to understand your partner’s perspective; rather than waiting for them to finish so the you can respond, listen to what they’re saying and take a breath (with a “hmmm”) after everything they say.
- Positive interactions even when you disagree (e.g. letting your partner know that you love them and want to resolve the issue, physical affection, contemplation before responding, an attempt to make up after); the most important time to be loving and affectionate is when things are tense. Even when you’re mad or frustrated, if you can reach out and let them know that you care (e.g. put your hand on theirs), you’ll find that your fights are less intense and more resolvable.
- Writing down your concerns, fears and expectations and sharing them openly with your partner; some people advise against arguing via text as it lacks tone and nuance, but I see many couples who resolve issues while typing. It might be a generational issue (younger folks are more accustomed to communicating and expressing themselves via text), but I see a number of benefits including the ability to reread what you’ve written and communicate emotions using emojis.
- An opportunity for both parties to speak and listen;
- Acknowledging your role in the conflict first. We have a tendency to blame others first (it’s a near-universal defence mechanism), but those who fight fairly take a moment to reflect on what they did to contribute to the current conflict or disagreement. Mea culpa is a powerful conflict resolution approach.
- A desire to reach resolution and improve understanding as opposed to a desire to win an argument. If you want to be right, you don’t really want to resolve the conflict. There isn’t always a right and wrong and if you’re stuck in this mindset, you’ll likely find that your fights result in lingering tension as opposed to improved understanding.
- Specific action items: at the end of an argument, do you identify what you can do differently moving forward? Specific behavioural changes can improve your relationship and help you become a better person/partner.
Unhealthy fighting might involve:
- The same topics over and over with little behavioural and/or attitudinal change to follow
- Attempts to “win” an argument as opposed to bids to improve understanding
- Snide or underhanded remarks; muttering under your breath
- Conversation-killing statements like “I guess I should just leave. You’d be happier without me.” Or, “Stop acting crazy!” These types of statements don’t move the conversation along and they’re certainly not underpinned by love. Healthy fights allow you to relieve tension with the goal of improving your relationship and deepening the loving connection.
If you’re ready to improve and invest in your relationship check out our online learning courses here. You can learn to be a better communicator, get more of what you want and maintain the spark for years to come.