Wifeys & Gentlemen,
Does anyone else feel like this has been the world’s longest week? Last week flew by me in a haze and the weekend seemed to come and go in the quickest flash. Suddenly, Monday rolls around and time has decided to stay awkwardly still! It’s infuriating! (Damn, I could use an angry face emoji right now!)
Meh. Pent up frustrations aside, I have been thinking a lot about tension, anger, and the ways in which we resolve conflict in our lives as well as in our relationships. Realistically speaking, there is some form of fighting in EVERY type of relationship you will ever have. We fight with our parents/elders, we fight with our siblings/cousins/peers, we fight with our teachers/bosses/authority figures, we fight with our friends and acquaintances, and eventually we fight with our significant others!
More realistically? Some of us tend to find ourselves fighting way more than others. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this concept, can we all stop for a moment and entertain the (somewhat) radical ideal that maybe, just maybe, there is no REAL need to fight with your partner…like ever?
I know, I know, that sounds kind of ridiculous, but between all of the threats, name calling, accusations, yelling, cursing, and throwing of expensive cocktails (or is that just me?) you find (at least much of the time) a huge heap of misunderstanding that, in my not so humble opinion, is damaging your relationship.
Don’t get me wrong! Arguments are perfectly normal and healthy forms of expression for even the closets of friends & lovers. No two people in the world no matter how compatible, kind, and ‘meant to be’ they are will ever see eye to eye about every single thing 100% of the time!
Go on…try to dispute that, I’ll wait!
….taps foot impatiently…
No? Nothing? Okay then.
Aside from being unrealistic, relationships without disagreement are just flat out boring! All couples need to be able to find good ways to navigate their differences from time to time. When the tension is building, we need an outlet, and while I do not condone the aforementioned vicious methods some couples tend to rely on when going after each other, I do believe that with every fight, there is potential to improve communication in a healthy, sensible, and comfortable way.
So, in true Ms. Renai fashion, I spent some time coming up with a list of things that I think couples can TRY to do when going a few rounds in the ring with their partner. This can also be applied to arguments with friends, family, or anyone you have closeness and intimacy with.
Note: I really love lists you guys! I write them in my sleep and I get a WONDERFUL feeling of satisfaction every time I get to cross things off of my list or when I can revisit and revise a list for my personal reference. Please don’t hate the lists… and if you do, learn to love them as you would any other minor, irritating yet awesomely convenient thing! (Cuz the lists ain’t going away anytime soon) 😉
…and now, the list!
- Stop being scared to fight and disagree!
I can’t stress this enough! Part of the reason why fights can blow up into something crazy and irrational is because people wait days, weeks, months, and even YEARS before they decide they can’t ‘pretend’ anymore and have to disagree. Usually, this person will snap at what should have been a minor incident, blow the situation out of proportion, and then emotionally bitch slap their partner with a barrage of pent up instances that they didn’t bother to share in the years before. But there is good news…
All of this can be avoided!
It can end right now, today. All you need to do is make the commitment to stop being afraid to have differences and accept arguing as a part of growth and development. With each disagreement, we learn from each other and we get to teach the person we love about ourselves. In a close, intimate relationship what could possibly be wrong with that? Seize the moment and take the leap! You’ll be happy you did.
- Remember that you are fighting about an ISSUE not about each other
Often times when friends or family members of mine talk to me about fights with their significant others, things turn ugly when the direction of the argument moves from “I don’t like it when you do or say ______” to “you’re a miserable shrew who can’t manage to do ______ correctly”.
See the difference there?
Now I’m no fool. Depending on the issue at hand, trying to maintain this perspective might prove to be damn near impossible. If you caught your partner in a serious lie, for example, avoiding calling him/her a liar and an asshole might be too much to ask.
However, if you attempt to limit the scope of your disagreement to the discord with the problem and not with the person you love, you in turn limit the amount of needless personal attacks, back biting, and bitterness.
If your boyfriend doesn’t want you to go out with your friends on Friday night, try to understand his insecurities and explain your discomfort about the request. Saying something like “I understand you are feeling insecure, but I need time with my friends” will likely hurt way less than “you drive me crazy! I need to have a night out just so I don’t strangle you!”
These might seem like two extremes, but as Drake so cleverly tells us, things can go from 0-100 REAL QUICK! You might not even realize what you’re saying until it’s too late. & the worse the insult the harder it can be to recover, apologize, and forgive.
- Listen more, Talk Less (and pleasantly)
When we feel strongly about something we want to be heard! We want to have our feelings validated and (much of the time) we want to prove to our partners that we are right and know what’s best! That’s all well and good, but please wifeys, try to remember that as much as YOU might want to be heard and respected, your partner wants the exact same thing.
Listening respectfully means acknowledging their thoughts, feelings, and ideas with a focused level of attention and a genuine desire to understand (not always agree but understand) their point of view. A good ‘rule of thumb’ for me to remember is that for every minute I spend talking, I try to spend 2 minutes listening! It’s hard and it doesn’t always work, but the goal is to make sure I am hearing my partner’s concerns and opinions with care and not simply waiting for your next chance to prove how right you are.
Also, don’t even get me started on how many fights could have/should have been MINOR disagreements if one or both parties would have kept their octaves low! I’m the first to admit that I am LOUD as heck most of the time. If I am passionate or excited, my voice goes up. However, during a disagreement, loud voices usually read as hostile or angry. TRY VERY HARD to avoid this and you might save yourself a lot of hassle.
Keep calm people, keep calm.
- Ask Questions
Sometimes, before getting angry over what we perceive or what we do not understand, we need all of the information. When you or your partner have complaints about each other’s habits, behaviors, or actions, try to ask each other to be as specific as possible about the complaint and then ask follow up questions to make sure you understand exactly where the conflict is and what you can do to minimize it.
Moreover, there will be times when (& I am VERY guilty of this) you will get upset over something that did not actually happen! There have been moments where I thought my boyfriend said something he didn’t actually say or did something that he didn’t actually do and before getting bent out of shape, I ask him to explain or clarify what happened. 8 times out of 10, I was heading towards anger over a simple misunderstanding and was able to avoid a whole fight just by asking for clarification.
*Warning: You might not always like the answers to the questions you ask and this CAN lead to more fighting down the line, but nothing was ever resolved by staying silent, so ask ask ask.
- Find things to agree on, understand your options, and be willing to make some sacrifice
This one seems pretty self-explanatory but for those of us who have already checked out for the weekend (ME!), it is ALWAYS helpful to try to find something in the middle of your conflict to agree about. Finding a common ground, even if it is as simple as agreeing that you both love each other and want to keep trying until you fix it, is a big step in actually fixing it! (who knew?)
Additionally, fights end quickly when couples begin to compromise and cooperate. Ask your partner for suggestions or ideas about any alternative options you both have to make the situation better. Perhaps if you don’t like your man having a ‘guys’ night’ on the town, he can agree to host one at the house? (without you though…you can’t stay for guys’ night)! Hehe.
Making small concessions can turn a situation from icky to pleasant in a lot of cases and if you are willing to suck it up and give in a little, your partner (who loves and respects you) will want to do the same.
Also try to remember that compromise does not always have to be even. Sometimes you’ll come out on top at 70-30 and sometimes you’ll be behind at 20-80.
ove is all about keeping score! Every time you lose an argument or make a sacrafice, be sure to bring it up constantly and rub it in your partner’s face! You’ll get way more out of it the next time you fight.
- Make love, make peace, make up
Easier said than done, I know. Real talk though wifeys, if you listen to no other piece of advice in this blog today, as cliché as it sounds, do NOT to go bed angry!
Seriously, all of the experts say it and it seems to be what works. WHEN POSSIBLE make the commitment to resolve the conflict within 24-48 hours of it occurring.
No, this doesn’t mean you can’t physically go to sleep for 2 days when having a row (British words!) with your significant other, but if you are holding a grudge for more than a couple days, you’re doing lasting damage.
Believe me, I am a HUGE advocate for ‘cool-off’ periods. Sometimes, when things are dramatic and you (or both of you) are so pissed off that your eyes are glowing red, you don’t need to be scrambling to find a resolution before bed time. Sometimes not even 24 hours is enough and you need to be out of touch for a day or two to get your thoughts on track.
But you MUST make the commitment to reconnect shortly after the falling out. You MUST be relentless in your pursuit to squash that beef!
Plus, no one can top the supreme benefits of some good old fashioned make up sex …
Or so I’ve heard 😉
It might seem annoying, but as someone who has been in all types of relationships (fighting all the time, never fighting at all, fighting on occasion) I can tell you that working hard at these tactics can make all of the difference, especially when you both are facing major adjustments and lifestyle transitions; moving in together, getting married, having a baby, losing a relative, getting a promotion or finishing school, financial trouble, etc.
Yes, even the “best” fighters still yell and scream sometimes (I raised my voice at my guy just last week…nobody’s perfect) but what are you learning and improving upon each time you argue? Are your arguments hurting you or bringing you closer together?
Remember: Even couples who fight all the time can learn to fight productively.
Trust yourselves and trust each other. You might be surprised at what you learn.
Until Next week,
Carry on Wifeys!
Ps. I know I promised something exciting this week but it didn’t quite pan out the way I wanted. So, be on the lookout and…in the spirit of learning from our mistakes *ahem* let’s remember that in relationships we shouldn’t make promises we can’t keep….or something like that, right? Ha!