Contrary to popular belief, fighting with your beau can make your relationship stronger – below, our guide on how to fight like a pro. (You’re welcome.)
Suppressing emotions is a fine art that’s been cultivated in my family for generations and explains why I’m so comfortable in the role of reclusive spinster. It also totally explains my string of epic fail relationships, since I never learned one of the most important ingredients to successful coupling: how to fight.
Many of us avoid fighting the same way we avoid mullet-guy at the bar, but why? Fighting equals intimacy (at least, when we know how to fight constructively). It shows that you care enough about the relationship to not write it off as soon as disagreements bubble to the surface.
When learning how to fight as a couple, the first step is letting go of the preconceived notion that fighting is synonymous with anger. Once you’re able to take anger out of the equation, your spat will become productive instead of turning into a Jerry Springer episode.
If you’re ready to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee (and, you know, make up afterward), here’s how to fight while still playing fair:
1. Know what you want.
Unless you know what you want by the end of the fight, there’s no point in having the fight at all.
2. Deal with it stat.
Deal with things as they bother you. Don’t let them fester – otherwise, you’ll end up like me, still irked by crap that happened five years ago (I wish I was joking). Meg Ryan put it best in French Kiss:
A healthy person is someone who expresses their feelings… Express, not repress… You know what happens to people who shut everybody out? They fester. Inside. Fester and rot.
In other words, don’t go silent or leave passive-aggressive notes. Be an adult, and use your words. Right now, while you still have a good idea of what’s bothering you (see #1).
3. No interruptions. No exceptions.
No TV, no texting, no phone calls, no nothing until the issue is resolved. It’s how to fight 101: Why drag it on longer than you need to?
4. Talk among yourselves.
Going to your BFF for advice is one thing – bitching to everyone you come in contact with (including your mailman) about the 3,423 ways he drives you crazy is quite another. The more people you involve in your problems, the bigger your problems will become. Do everything possible to keep the argument contained between the two of you.
5. Don’t lash out.
During my days of emotional suppression, my bf and I were terrible at this. Since we didn’t know how to fight, we’d just mak heated comments under our breath. What’s worse, those heated comments always involved the aspects of ourselves that made us vulnerable and self-conscious to the other. If you’re a fan of self-esteem and dignity, I don’t recommend this tactic. Which brings us to…
6. Don’t sling mud.
Your relationship isn’t a political ad – character assassination has never and will never have anything to do with the argument at hand. If something from the past is still bothering you, but you’ve been pretending you’re fine, the onus is completely on you.
7. No blaming.
I don’t need to explain why this is a bad idea, do I? If so, I might need to write an entirely different article.
8. Agree to disagree.
News flash: couples don’t have to agree on everything. You’ll either find common ground or you won’t. As long as you understand each other’s perspectives and respect the stance each of you are taking, there’s no reason to create a rift about it.
9. Take a breather.
If you feel a broken vase coming on, it’s best to take time apart to cool off. It’ll give you time to regroup, put your emotions into words, and re-evaluate the situation calmly.
10 Don’t go Ice Queen.
It may have worked on your parents when you wanted a new pair of pumps, but it’s better to leave this strategy in your teens. You don’t want him to avoid looking at you for fear he’ll turn to stone (crap, I’m mixing up metaphors).
Have you mastered how to fight in your relationship?
Related on EcoSalon:
10 Signs It’s Time to Leave Your Relationship
Going All In: 7 Ways to Build Trust in a Relationship