My boyfriend and I got into an intense battle last night. It happens, couples fight. We’ve been together for 10 and a half years, we can fight about anything, and we are good at it.
Years ago, we would fight to extremes. I’m talking punches being thrown on both ends.
(Let me stop there for a minute and state that I do not support, condone, encourage, or justify the use of physical violence in any altercation. No matter the parties involved, people should not hit one another regardless of gender, size, strength, or provocation.)
We have both done and said things we shouldn’t have. We learned our lesson about a lot of things but one issue we seem to have trouble with is effective communication during an argument.
I have been so fortunate to have taken several classes that focus on communication skills. A wealth of valuable information was provided in those courses and, as a result, I learned how to communicate through a disagreement. Sometimes I sense that boyfriend becomes frustrated with my advanced verbal skills, often labeling it as “talking down”to him. I don’t try to be condescending in the way I speak, I just become incredibly analytical and exercise better reasoning skills once things get heated.
That being said, it may not always be ready to be the level headed individual in a fight, but you can always walk away knowing you said all the right things. This is what I consider “fighting effectively”.
-Always stay on topic in an argument, refrain from rehashing anything that occurred even 24 hours ago. If you had an opportunity to air a grievance prior to the current argument, yet chose not to do so, you forfeit all rights to bring it up in a new disagreement.
-If you must mention faults in the other, throw them a bone and mention a fault of your own. It keeps the playing field level and wards of defensiveness a bit.
-In conjunction with the aforementioned tip: try mentioning something you enjoy about the other person, or something that makes you happy. The reminder of good times should boost both your spirits. Even if it comes out in an angry tone, you can be happy with yourself that you made an effort to say it.
– Keep the fights personal. Do not fight in front of friends, family, and most importantly, children. Do not vent to friends, family, or children. When you fill people in on what’s going wrong, you better be prepared to balance it out with what goes good as well, unless you want people to form misguided opinions. But really, it’s no one’s business what happens in a personal relationship between you and one other person.
-Choose your words carefully. Make a conscious effort to start every sentence with “I”, “me”, “my” or some other way of speaking only of yourself. I can speak from experience that this method can seem almost as though it backfires if you get some response that suggests you are selfish or only thinking of yourself. My response is always, “of course I’m only speaking about myself, I cannot speak for you. I don’t know what you think or feel. It is your part to tell me how you feel.” This had usually proven to be disarming and makes rebuttal nearly impossible.
– Most importantly, always be willing to apologize. I know the feeling of absolute refusal to just let it die, even when my boyfriend makes his best efforts to smooth things over. When your feelings are hurt, that’s not an easy feeling to just let go. But I have made a habit of always saying sorry right after he says sorry, that way he knows that I accept responsibility for being 50% of the fight.
I struggle with many things still, old habits die hard. I can say with the utmost confidence that I exercise all of what I preach and when I do, I really don’t feel devastated when a big fight happens. I always knew I did the best I could to keep the situation under control. If my efforts are unsuccessful, if we still end up really getting into it, if I still end up with hurt feelings, I know I did my best to remain mature through the fight. I accept our fights as a very healthy part of our relationship. Fights happen when you have intense feelings involved. You love hard, you fight hard.
And I can’t say that or fights were always so effectively communicated. We threw our share of punches, but we grew up and learned how to handle our issues with some decorum. Maybe, someday, I will divulge just how bad the fights have been. That way anyone can see that even the worst fights between two people can evolve to be less hurtful and more cathartic.
Today was great for us. The fight is barely a memory. We are back to just loving each other. We had a lovely evening with our kids, eating dinner and watching a movie. As he is sleeping next to me, snoring, I am so happy to have him here. I will put my phone down now(ironically my excessive phone usage was the cause of last night’s blowout) and wrap my arms around him. I love him. ❤