No Blaming – and Six Other Ways to Fight Fairly With Your Partner
How you fight with your partner strongly determines how happy your relationship will be.
Do you dream of being in a relationship where no one argues or fights? I am afraid that is a rather utopian concept, my friend.
In reality no two people think, feel and behave in the same manner – no matter how compatible and happy they are otherwise. Research in the field of love, relationship and social psychology in fact, says that a healthy relationship includes some amount of “negotiation of differences”.
The WAY you fight can determine how long you’ll end up staying together and how happy and fulfilling your relationship will be!
Couples who fight “fair” are those who take time out to work out their differences by listening and behaving respectfully towards their partner. The aim is not to fight or to hurt the other but to engage in a discussion which matters to both the partners.
It’s a way of letting off steam and that’s ALWAYS a requirement for a healthy relationship.
Below are some tips to help you smoothen out your conflict in a dignified and healthy manner:
Stick to the Present
Do not bring up the totally unfair thing your partner did last Christmas Eve if it’s not relevant to what you’re fighting about today. Bringing up old arguments hurts and not only aggravates the current situation but also keeps you in a vicious loop wherein there’s no resolution, only conflict.
Choose Your Battles
There could be many peccadilloes in your partner you don’t necessarily understand. But does that matter? Everything that sets you off can’t be spoken about and possibly there is no solution.
Choose what you want to fight about. What is the one thing that is becoming a barrier in an otherwise healthy relationship? Address that. You need to eliminate the white noise.
Criticise the Behaviour, Not the Person
There is a thin line between criticising the behaviour and not the person, and that thin line decides if the argument is going to blow out of proportion or is going to reach a peaceful resolution.
When you tell your partner that they are selfish for not switching off the lights when you’re still sleeping, you’re attacking who they are and not what they did. Instead, try complaining without blame. Can you instead say, “When you don’t switch off the lights it disturbs my sleep”?
When you criticise your partner, you demoralise them. They don’t feel accepted. But when a behaviour is criticised, it helps them look within because changing a behaviour is doable.
Try to See the Underlying Need
Anger colours our perspective. We focus on the tone and the words and the body language and it makes us defensive and angrier. But, instead, try to focus on where they’re coming from. It could be that their needs for love, attention, security or what- have-you are not being met, and maybe fighting is just their attempt to direct attention to that.
If you focus only on the how’s, you’ll miss the why’s.
Respect Your Emotions
If you’re feeling something build inside you – be it anger, tears or annoyance – give it some space. Moving your feelings out of the way to focus only on the issue at hand, just puts them under the carpet. You’re not paying attention to them but that doesn’t mean they’re not there or growing. Take some time out if you need it and think about why this particular fight is making you feel that particular way. If you’ll find the roots of your emotion, you’ll get your solution.
Sometimes, all your partner wants is to be heard. Acknowledge what they’re saying, either verbally or by focusing your attention on them. Don’t interrupt them or try to defend yourself in the middle. Let them have at it. Even if you’re not quite sure about what they’re saying, give them the opportunity to voice out their feelings. Wait until they’re done to put forward your point of view and convey that you empathise with what they’re feeling.
When you react to your partner’s actions, words and anger you’re just feeding them. You need to operate out of your own thoughts and emotions. You decide where you want the fight to go, and how you want to handle it and then act out of that.
If you keep playing to their emotions instead of yours, you lose the autonomy of the situation and even if that particular fight gets done with you haven’t handled your emotions.
(Prachi Jain is a psychologist, trainer, optimist, reader and lover of Red Velvets.)
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