“Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.”
~ Nat Turner
Even in the healthiest and best relationships, couples will have arguments… in fact, healthy arguments can even be a sign of a good relationship because in the right scenarios you can learn more about each other and go deeper from those places of conflict, it’s also proof you both care.
So, it’s happened… your fears got the best of you, you were really triggered and you had a fight with him… now what?
Here are a few healthy ways to handle it.
1. Give yourself time to cool off.
In my first book ‘Art of Love’ I use the analogy of allowing the soup time to cool down before you try to eat it otherwise you’re just going to burn your mouth, the same is true in love and relating.
Don’t try to jump in when everything is heated give yourself and your partner healthy space and time to cool down and gain perspective.
Often when we have a chance to step back we are then able to see things more clearly and we can hold space for ourselves and our partner in a way that is seeking compromise and connection, not encouraging more fighting and disconnect.
2. Don’t keep the fight going.
Remember, in relating, we should always be seeking to do just that, relate to each other, to find compromise and common ground, to go deeper into love. Don’t keep the fight going, don’t carry on the silent treatment, the cold shoulder etc, because really that just means that you haven’t let it go.
A great relationship is a union of two good forgivers and ultimately you realize that holding onto anger is like holding a hot rock, you’re only burning yourself and in this case further damaging the relationship… let it go. Let your love be louder than your ego, soften and open your heart to your partner.
3. Talk it out.
You might be tempted to just sweep it under the rug, to go straight back to happily relating like nothing ever happened, but this can be a recipe for disaster. Without resolution, without getting to the heart of the issue, the same scenario will often play out in different ways again and again.
Try to get to the moral of the story so you can fix it and it doesn’t keep happening.
Keep in mind it’s not usually about the dishes being left in the sink or the trash not being taken out – those are bi-products of the real issues which is more likely; your not being present, thoughtful or aware etc. go deep to the root in order to create true healing growth and connection.
Your apology should be as loud as your disrespect was. Don’t just throw out a half hearted apology, be genuine and sincere.
Let your partner know you see the places where fear got the best of you. Let them know you have genuine remorse for any ways in which your actions hurt them.
Let them know that you’ve learned and will apply that knowledge in the future so that you don’t continue to repeat the same patterns.
It shouldn’t be about being ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ in love … that kind of mentality will keep you constantly divided. It should be about being Love … so ask yourself, what would Love do?
Treat your partner like they are on the same team as you and you are looking for solutions, not as someone who’s against you that your running defense on, this will make a world of difference. Apologize sincerely & admit where you are off.
Now that you’ve given yourself time to cool down, you’ve truly let the anger go, you’ve talked it out, you’ve apologized…. Take time to reconnect with your partner.
While I never suggest sex as a way to resolve an argument, I do definitely suggest it after you’ve taken these above steps.. whether it’s passionate love making, laying together heart to heart or side by side watching your favorite show, a long walk on the beach, playing together!
It’s truly important to remember to reconnect physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually with your partner after a fight.
This will calm the tensions and remind you, again, why you’re choosing to be with them in the first place.
Ashley Davene, Relationship Counselor – www.ashleydavene.com
Relationships take a lot of work, continuous effort and a great deal of compromise, insight and understanding.
Romantic love will inevitably change as you progress through your relationship.
But what lasts most should be the committed, emotional love that makes all healthy relationships worthwhile. Inevitably, since you and your partner will fight, what happens after the fight is over and how will this keep your relationship healthy?
1. One or both should apologize.
Listen to what your boyfriend has to say and while you may not agree with him, acknowledge him for feeling that way and explain why your views are different.
If you both listen to each other, the aftermath of a fight will not result in unresolved baggage, that is brought up next time.
See if you can come up with a compromise, or win-win situation that both of you can live with. This will enable you to move on from the argument, feeling like some effort was made on both sides.
2. Let things go.
If you harbor resentments, negative feelings or negative intrusive thoughts, you will probably have an argument again.
Ask yourself if the issue is really that important to focus on and if it isn’t let it go and move on.
If you feel strongly that there needs to be more discussion about it, set up a time to talk again and do it calmly, rationally and with an open mind.
3. Focus on the good things about your partner.
Obviously, there is some substance to the relationship or you wouldn’t be in it. Remind yourself about all that you love about this person and reflect on the positive., rather than constantly rehashing the negative.
4. Respect, understanding and patience make a relationship healthy.
If you care about your partner, if you want to be fair and honest, and if you want to maintain a long-term relationship, you would want to communicate well, listen openly and be tolerant.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Fighting (or what I like to think of as animated discussion) is a normal part of a relationship.
Ideally you both fight smart, which means you don’t fight to win but rather to learn, and then later you have a nice glass of wine .
If you don’t fight smart you both have probably engaged in critical, defensive and offensive tactics to try to win the fight.
So the nice glass of wine is probably out and instead you both have to soothe hurt feelings.
Fair fighting is a skill that you must learn to have a connected, loving relationship.
That means never fighting to win, avoiding John Gottman’s “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”: criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt, making I-statements and respectful listening.
If you’ve had a nasty fight you need to apologize for your part in it.
Some people need more time than others to cool down emotionally. You have to give or take that time. You can’t communicate if either of you is in a state of emotional arousal.
Calming down is a solo enterprise. Self-soothing is an important life skill in general. Although it’s hard to refrain from trying to soothe your partner, you can’t. Each of you is on your own for that.
When you are both calm, it might be helpful to revisit the fight, not the content of (although you’ll have to that too at some point), but the process of it.
Think about how you could have behaved better. Affirm your love and caring and your desire to learn how to peacefully resolve your issues. Hopefully he’ll do that too, but your behavior can’t be dependent on his.
Some people cool down but never come back to deal with the issue.
That leads to a build up of angry, hurt feelings that can be really toxic to your relationship.
At some point in the near future you need to look at the issue and try to resolve it.
Try to follow the guidelines for fair fighting. A compromise is often a good outcome. If you remember to care more about each other that about getting your way, you won’t need to have a post-fight strategy.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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