Being in love with someone doesn’t mean you automatically view the world the way they do. Disagreements are bound to crop up in every relationship. But it doesn’t mean that every point of friction is met with aggression or extreme passiveness. The mid-point is effective communication; it is the key to resolve all fights and ensure you don’t permanently dent your relationship. It’s easier said than done, sure, but we’ve put together a handbook which will allow you to repair and resolve your fight without damaging the relationship.
Give each other space to process
You’ve just had a massive argument with your partner; the kind that spiralled into numerous small arguments about things that have no relation to the original point of contention. You’re sad, angry, and a little guilty about things you said. Once you’ve said your piece and they’ve said theirs, take a step back to reflect and allow them to do the same. Giving your partner space in moments like these is crucial. No argument is ever solved while your emotions are still heightened. Take a moment or three to think about the fight and how you want to proceed. However, don’t make the mistake Ross and Rachel made; a break or needing some space does not mean a break-up!
There comes a point in every fight where it becomes less about solving it and more about proving your point. However, in order to resolve the situation, without flushing your relationship down the toilet, you have to set your ego and all your defensiveness aside and understand the points your partner is making. Lock yourselves in a room, shut down all distractions, and give them your undivided attention. Active listening is the path to effective communication. It’s about understanding their point of view and not interrupting or counter-arguing even if you don’t agree with them. Once you both calmly understand each other’s perspective, you can reflect on the situation together and come to a conclusion. But do remember, this can only happen once you and your partner have taken some time to feel your feelings and process them.
Attack the problem, not your partner
Anyone who has ever been in a nasty fight with their partner will agree that it’s a slippery slope. It starts out with a small disagreement and in no time the floodgates open and you’re screaming at each other. However, attacking the person in front of you, instead of the problem at hand, never solves anything. Instead of taking your partner’s personality apart and focusing on their flaws, focus your energy on solving the problem.
One method to do this is using only ‘I’ statements. For instance, instead of saying “you have no regard for my feelings” say “I feel unheard”. Talk about yourself and how the situation makes you feel instead of going on the offensive. This gives your partner the space to explain themselves without feeling attacked or like they’re being backed into a corner.
Don’t turn your fight into a cold war
After a fight, a lot of couples tend to freeze the other one out. Not because they don’t know how to resolve the situation but because they get stuck in a ‘who blinks first’ competition. This cold war is topped up with unnecessary jabs at the most unassuming times and passive-aggressive behaviours. This might be satisfying your ego but it’s certainly not doing your relationship any favours. Instead, why don’t you try apologising? Even if you don’t believe it’s your fault, a small ‘I am sorry’, and setting your arms and ammunitions down goes a long way. Take your time and space to think about what happened, but once you’ve done that, don’t hold things against your partner; it’s easier than walking on eggshells around each other and also opens a dialogue to meet halfway and come to a solution.
What have you learned?
No relationship is perfect. You have to show up and put in the work every day to strengthen your bond. And fights are opportunities to learn how your partner behaves in certain situations and what their worldview is. So, once you have done all the things we talked about above, make a plan to ensure the same problem doesn’t crop up again. Not only that, once you two do make-up (and maybe have some make-up sex), strategise on how to deal with disagreements more effectively. Let your boundaries be known, be mindful of your partner’s boundaries, and maybe lay down some ground rules for the future. After all, it never hurts to be prepared.