Fighting (or conflict) is a normal, even healthy part of any intimate relationship. If you are in a relationship for more than say, 5 minutes, you and your partner are going to have a difference of opinions since you are both adults with a mind of your own. The secret to maintaining love and intimacy in your relationship is NOT to avoid the fact that you and your partner feel differently; rather it is really important to bring these different opinions and feelings out into the open so you are both fully aware of them. And this is where secret #1 on how to fight fair begins – communication.
- Communicate your feelings about what is bugging or upsetting you. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone told me: “I shouldn’t have to tell my spouse I am upset about blah, blah, blah (whatever it is the person is upset about) – he/she should know. Well – maybe he/she should know- but so what? If they don’t know – tell them. Your relationship is not a game – with a winner or loser. Your relationship is a partnership – so act like it is and communicate your feelings. There is too much at stake to be playing a guessing game or holding a grudge against your partner for a slight they might know nothing about. Clearly and respectfully communicate your feelings to your partner when you are upset with something they may have said, done or not said or not done. Clear the air and then move on.
- Actively listen to what your partner has to say. You’ve communicated your unhappy or upset feelings to your partner and now it is time for you to be quiet and let your partner tell you how they feel about the situation – and what you just said. Don’t interrupt them and be truly open to hearing their side of the story. There is a pretty good chance you played some role, albeit minor, to get you to where you are feeling now. Now relax, I am not suggesting that you are to blame – I am only suggesting there is no such thing as a one-handed clap. Got it?
- Be open and willing to compromise – and forgive – if the situation calls for it. Chances are your partner did not deliberately set out to upset or hurt you. Misunderstandings and miscommunications happen all the time– we are after all, only human. We all need to be able to compromise and forgive at some point in our relationship – if we are in it for the long haul. Remember, the future might call for you to be forgiven by your partner – so what goes around, comes around.
And while we are talking about compromising, let’s not forget that sometimes we need to be able to “agree to disagree”, respectfully, of course.
The next time you and your partner are not on the same page, or in disagreement over some issue – make sure you communicate these feelings, clearly and effectively to them. Then, actively listen to what your partner has to say. Finally, be ready and willing to compromise and forgive – whatever the situation might call for. There is no value in you winning the battle only to lose the war. And finally, it is okay to respectfully “agree to disagree”.
Relationships are like life – they take you down roads that twist and turn – and some can take you totally off course. Fight fair so you can enjoy the journey with the one you love – and don’t sweat every unexpected detour and pothole that comes your way.
Rekindle Romance and Happiness in Your Relationship,
Dr. Patty Ann