Sunday, May 10, 2015

How to Stop Fighting With Your Partner

In any relationship, fights and emotional arguments are inevitable. Fights have a generally bad reputation- problems arise, offense is taken, words become sharp, passion is ignited, and the issue is often only resolved after both parties calm down and think rationally about the situation. These arguments usually arise from tiny annoyances, quickly escalating into a slew of passive aggressive recollections of unresolved hurts, petty speeches of defense, and a growing inability to switch perspective. We get so attached to being right, to being the one hurt, to being the one who is asked too much of, that what we don't even want what we need- resolution and relief.

I believe that fights are inevitable. Two people growing more intimately with one another are bound to run into personal differences that are met with great resistance from the other. This resistance can really hurt. We're annoyed that they refuse to be more considerate, compassionate, logical, emotional, etc. We have a need and we want that need fulfilled. That is perfectly alright. What isn't, though, is projecting that need onto our partners and giving them the full responsibility of fulfilling something we can resolve ourselves. Fights get bad because we lose track of the boundaries between our power and our partner's power.

So if we can resolve our own issues and reclaim our own power, does that mean fights won't happen?

No. Fights will still happen, conflict will arise, it is our human nature. But just like a spark does not guarantee a flame, a little conflict does not mean that a giant fight is imminent.

Conflict isn't necessarily bad. The presence of conflict just means that you two hold two incompatible, or seemingly incompatible, ideas about your relationship. There will always be disagreements between you and your partner- without this contrast, you would just be dating yourself. Damage happens when those disagreements are amplified by our ego, our lack of clarity, and our lack of perspective. A good rule of thumb is to nip these things at the bud- one partner starts this chain by allowing the other to voice their disapproval and dissatisfaction before calmly and lovingly giving accounts of their perspective on the matter and their perspective as they step into their partner's shoes. Still, we can forget to do this. All hope is not lost.

 Another important factor to fighting is emotion and passion. Emotion and passion can be ignited relatively rationally- but can grow exponentially towards the illogical and over-dramatic. Emotions are meant to be cues as to how we feel about a situation. They are a reflection of our inner reality. When we fight, we feel angry because we want to be understood, sad because our partner's love is being withheld, annoyed because they won't listen, and negative because, in the heat of the moment, that's all there seems to be. A very quick and effective way to prevent these negative emotions from escalating is to remember that you two are on the same side. You are fighting because something is hurting your relationship-your union. The quicker you realize this, the easier it is to see your emotions for what they are. Instead of feeding your emotions- i.e. saying things you don't mean because you're angry, just read your emotions. This is kind of like differentiating between the root of a problem and the effects of it. Reacting to your negative emotions just feeds them. Reading your negative emotions helps you gain perspective on the situation so that you can get out of that all encompassing cloud of conflict, calm down, and work things out lovingly.

Despite that being said, emotions don't just turn off immediately. Emotions are a force, and a force has to go somewhere. You may have stopped feeding your negative emotion, but its momentum is still there and you have to be okay with that. Sometimes, its very easy for us to just stop it- our sheer realization of the situation absorbs the negativity's impact. Still, knowing how to productively let the momentum die down is a pretty useful skill.

It may sound weird, but you need to talk to your partner, and if you're both aware enough in the moment, remind each other that you have chosen to stop feeding your negativity, but you need to cool off and let the negativity's momentum die down. This sets up a kind of safety zone- all things said from now, all hints of annoyance and aggression in your tone, all eye rolls and interruption, should just be dismissed as momentum dying down. No getting mad at how they inflected that one word with despicable attitude, no flying off the handle because they gave off a sigh. Let both of you get it out, walk it out, maybe take a breather. This part isn't personal.


So, now, both of you can go do something totally different. There may be a little resistance first from the dying off of momentum, but just bear with it. Hug each other, give each other a massage, do something sweet and considerate to remind the both of you that you are on the same side. And when you have romanced yourselves back into a nice state of calm and love, you can calmly take turns discussing your issues in non-accusatory tones.


Fights are going to happen, just learn to nip them at the bud or get a hold of yourself at any point and choose to come back down.


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