Every couple fights, it’s inevitable. Whether the fight is about something small like taking out the trash or something significant like financial issues, there will be times when the two of you don’t see eye to eye. Most people think that fighting means something is wrong within the relationship, and to some degree that can be true. What’s worse than fighting is not fighting. Most people don’t think about the fact that if you’re fighting, it means you still care, you’re still in the relationship. When the fighting stops, that’s when you need to look out for real trouble.
The question then becomes, “if couples fight, and some fighting is a good sign, how do you fight successfully?” Fighting can be a very negative aspect of a relationship if the fighting isn’t fair and abusive. If fighting is fair, voices aren’t raised, then that is the healthier way to fight. So how do you fight fair?
You Don’t Run
Running away from a fight basically says to the other person, “you’re not important enough for me to stick around for something that might be uncomfortable.” That really does not make someone feel good and can amp up the anger in the other person. The best way to fight is to not immediately leave the room if your spouse brings something up that you might end up arguing about, but rather stay in the room and say something like, “I am sorry, I wasn’t aware of how much of an issue this was, can we talk further about this?”
You Slow It Down and Hear Eachother Out
Fighting can escalate all too quickly! First, the fight starts off with a snide comment, then the other person turns away, then the other name calls, then there is yelling, and so on. Stop the fight in its tracks before the yelling. For example, if the topic is finances that you’re arguing about when you feel yourself about to yell, take a deep breath and count to five slowly before speaking. It may sound lame but can really help to not escalate things any further.
No Namecalling or Blaming
This is where fighting is not fair at all. Namecalling and blaming the other person only adds fuel to the fire and gets everyone more defensive. When fighting, don’t say “it’s your fault we are in this mess” or “you are such a child! You can’t keep track of money!” Phrases like those only ensure that no healthy communication will occur. Rather than using those dirty tactics that get you nowhere, saying things like, “I am feeling really frustrated that we are in this financial mess right now, can we discuss how we are going to move forward?” That way there is no blame given to anyone and you are speaking in terms of “we,” which indicates you guys are a team and in this together!
Know When To Step Away
Now, if there is a fight that has gotten out of hand, whether yelling is starting, namecalling, or if things have gotten close to getting physical, then it’s time to step away. If you and your spouse cannot see eye to eye in that moment or even see each other’s sides of the argument, there is no point continuing the conversation. Sometimes people need to go to a separate room cool off and come back when they are more level-headed, and that is okay, as long as they know that works for them.
Set Up Rules For Fights Beforehand
Setting up rules about fighting may seem silly, but it helps in the end. For instance, if you are in a fight and one of you starts namecalling, you can say, “I thought we agreed that wasn’t going to be apart of arguing. That really hurt, what made you jump to that statement?” Or making sure each of you knows that it’s okay to step away from the fight if things are getting too heated. Each couple will have their own “rules” about arguing, but the key is to try to stick to them, and if you can’t then step away.
Validate Eachother’s Feelings
I cannot emphasize how important this is! Even if you aren’t seeing their side, do try to take a moment and put yourself in their shoes. Try seeing this from their perspective and how they feel. Emphasize! If you can do that you can then say something like, “I am so sorry, it must be really difficult for you to feel that way. I can see why you turned to spending money to ease the stress.” It doesn’t excuse the behavior but acknowledges the feelings of the other person. If they feel validated and heard then you have a higher chance of succeeding in coming together to find a solution to move forward.
Don’t Jump To Conclusions
Jumping to conclusions is one of the worst ways to communicate. When jumping to conclusions, you’re communicating to your spouse that, “I assume the worst in you.” Rather than jumping to a conclusion, take a moment to think it through. Make sure it makes sense before you say it and if it doesn’t, don’t say it. Rather give your partner the benefit of the doubt (unless there are trust issues, in that case, there might be a reason to be skeptical). If you two can communicate honestly and remember that the goal is to figure out a solution for the both of you, then that will be very helpful when it comes to giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Fighting can be scary in relationships, but when you learn how to fight healthily, the fighting can be seen as something productive rather than destructive.