FIGHTING: WHY IT'S NECESSARY + HOW TO TAKE IT FROM DESTRUCTIVE TO CONSTRUCTIVE
One lesson I learned very early in life, is that when you put two humans together, it’s bound to create frictions. In any relationship, fighting will inevitably be a part of the equation. When you take two people with more or less different backgrounds, cultures, family structures, religious beliefs and values, (amongst other things) you can't really expect them to see eye to eye on everything, right?
Everyone fights, and if you tell me you don't, I have a hard time believing it. Actually, I can believe it, but I believe it's even more dangerous than fighting.
Because people who don't fight usually hold on to things, internalize them and keep accumulating until they blow up... And then it's too late. They've had enough, they can't take it anymore... Sounds familiar? It does to me, because I used to be like that.
Truth is, I hate confrontation. That statement comes as a surprise to a lot of people, because I guess you could define me as a loud mouth. I also have a strong personality, and I don't hide behind other people, I prefer fighting my own battles. I don't have issues voicing my opinions, I stand up for what I believe is right and I will fight viciously to defend the people I love. But when it comes to friends, colleagues and extended family members, I have a different approach. I hate cold, awkward encounters and, most of all, I hate hurting the people I love.
Which means that I sometimes tend to bottle up feelings of hurt, anger and resentment, out of fear of hurting the people I care about. But I've gotten a lot better at sharing how I feel, because I realized that when I blow up after weeks/months of keeping shit inside, it's just so much worse.
In my opinion, it's much better to tell someone "that comment you made really hurt my feelings" than "you're a horrible friend, you always put me down, I never wanna see you again". Because that's much harder to recover from, sometimes impossible. Resentment really has a way of building up that makes it almost impossible to get rid of, once it gets to a certain point.
And that's why fighting isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes, it just helps to clear the air, lay your cards on the table and start from scratch.
That being said, there's a way to fight and keep it beneficial, instead of totally destructive. And in my world, if you know something is bound to happen anyway, you might as well try to make it as good as possible. Fighting is no exception. Here are 3 tips on how to fight with love, and keep it from totally destroying your relationships:
Pick Your Battles
If you've been in a relationship for a long time, there's bound to be more reasons to fight than when you just started dating. As people get to know each other, they lower their guard and become more comfortable being themselves. Even if that means doing things they shouldn't be doing. Therefore, more frictions are likely to happen than when the relationship just started.
For example, a husband that leaves his socks all over the house most likely didn't do it at first. In the beginning, he probably picked up after himself. Because he didn't want his girlfriend to see him as a messy slob. But now that he's more comfortable, the socks are on the sofa, on the floor next to the bed... And the wife hates it.
But unless stranded socks are the wife's biggest pet peeve ever, and the only one, she probably has more important things to pick a fight about. Like when the husband forgets to pick-up her mom at the airport because he's watching the game with friends, even though it was agreed upon that he would go. Or like when he stares at the waitress' cleavage for a little too long.
Because chances are, no matter how frustrating the sock situation is, there's gonna be worse things. And much like the boy who cried wolf, you don't wanna be the person who constantly complains. Because then, it looses all its impact. Sure, being upset because your husband stared at another woman in a disrespectful, obvious way is valid. And if it's pointed out to him in a decent manner, he would probably recognize his fault and apologize.
But if the whole week was about socks... And about the fact that he forgot your mother. And he didn't take out the trash. He let the dog outside too long. And he didn't put the toilet seat up... That comment about him checking out the waitress might just be the straw that will break the camel's back. Most likely, he won't hear that you're upset because he acted in a disrespectful way. All he's gonna hear is that your upset - again.
If you want your message to be truly powerful when something really bothers you, don't be that nagging wife/girlfriend/friend. That way, when you really need to address an issue, it'll be taken much more seriously.
Know What You're Fighting About
How many times do you start fighting with someone for an insignificant reason, until it escalades and then, 20 minutes later, you don't even remember why it started? I think that happens to all of us. But it really shouldn't. The good news is, you can easily avoid it.
Let's say you're arguing with your husband because he's always late. The real reason you're upset is not because you had to wait 15 minutes. It's because you feel like he doesn't value your time as much as his. Meaning, you feel like your husband considers himself to be more important than you. That's a valid concern to address, because no one should feel that way.
But knowing the real reason behind your anger will really help you verbalize it in a way that will make your husband sympathetic instead of defensive. Because people get defensive when they feel accused. That's makes sense, right? Who wouldn't?
So instead of telling him: "You're always late, you don't care about anyone but yourself, why can't you leave earlier if you know there's gonna be traffic, are you stupid?".
You should really be saying: "When I have to wait for you repeatedly, it really makes me feel like you don't value my time as much as yours, which makes me feel like you consider me to be inferior to you. Do you think you could make an effort so that it doesn't happen again?".
Granted, the difference in that case is not only knowing what the real issue is, it has a lot to do with formulation, too. But in my experience, it's much easier to formulate thoughts when you have a clear message to convey, than when you're basing it solely off of a raw emotion.
We're probably all guilty of having said horrible things while we were angry, but that's dangerous behaviour. Basically, a good fight is one that will allow you to solve a pain point. Not create new ones.
Insults never make any situation better, and the people you care about shouldn't have to feel demeaned. Even when you're both angry.
That's a tougher one, because contrary to the two first tips, which have to do with what happens before you actually fight, this one has to be applied during a fight. When emotions, including anger, are at their peak.
While we all might lose it from time to time, I think it's important to make a conscious effort not to say things, while we're fighting, that we wouldn't say otherwise. Asshole, bitch and fuck you, to mention only a few, don't have their place in a relationship.
Some changes are easy to make. For example, it's easy to reframe your mind to say things like "Why can't you pick up your socks?" instead of "Why are you such a fucking pig?". That might seem obvious, but it's not always.
One of the best techniques to avoid saying things that you'll regret is to take a break. Instead of calling someone a piece of shit, just say you need a break, or physically remove yourself from the conversation. Then you have time to calm down, but also to think about all the other reasons why you're in a relationship with that person, even though you might not agree on the specific topic you're fighting about.
Fighting clean is important because it prevents situation that you can't recover from. It's relatively easy to recover from a fight about your boyfriend checking out another girl. But it's harder to recover from him telling you he does it because you're a bitch.
Alright guys, that's all for today. I hope these tips will help you fight better and to actually solve issues instead of creating new ones. Please let me know what you think of these relationship themed posts, wether you love them or could see something else instead. As always, you can hit me up in the comments below, or on Instagram. Also let me know if you have additional tips. There can never be enough good advice out there.
Love you guys, Jenny xx