I have been thinking about how couples argue and fight over the last few weeks. I have been in a few long-term relationships – in some fights were handled well and in others they absolutely were not. Due, in part to experience and also a fair bit of therapy, I’ve learned a few things along the way about this topic. I have believed for a long time that it isn’t a problem that couples fight; it is what they do during that fight or argument that is much more telling about the health of the relationship:
- When your feelings are hurt, you must speak up. No one can read your mind. No one. To expect someone to do so is setting him or her up for failure and you up for frustration.
- If you aren’t wiling to speak up, you have to let it go. Again, no one can read your mind and if you aren’t willing to show up and be honest about how you feel, you don’t have a right to blame the other person. That one lies squarely on your shoulders.
- Don’t be passive aggressive. I am not proud of this but sometimes when my feelings are hurt, my instinct is to be passive aggressive about the situation. This is an incredibly immature and useless way of handling the situation. All it will serve to do is prolong the situation and potentially make it worse by further hurting each other’s feelings.
- When someone doesn’t respond the way you wanted him or her to, you can’t hold that against him or her. Each of us is entirely in charge of our own feelings and our own actions. You aren’t responsible for the behavior of someone else; you are only responsible for how you react to that.
- Remember, not every argument is a relationship-ending event. In fact, very few are. A few months ago, my boyfriend and I had a disagreement and he thought that because I was upset that I was going to dump him. That hadn’t even crossed my mind, he saw my hurt as my first step out the door and I saw my hurt as something to discuss and work through. Thankfully, we worked through it.
- Be open to discussing issues that you would rather ignore. Few things are worse than letting something fester instead of dealing with it. The only way to resolve issues and pain is to work through it. If you get to do that with someone you love, all the better!
- Say you’re sorry when screw up. All of us will screw up from time to time. When you do, own it.
- Trust your gut. Your gut will tell you when something is amiss. Your intuition sometimes knows better than your brain. Your brain may want to ignore problems because it doesn’t want to deal with them. Listen to your gut and then resolve it.
- Say I love you when it is all over. Most things can be worked through if you do it from a place of love.
It’s important for couples and even friends to learn to disagree and work through it, knowing full well that it is the most uncomfortable part of creating a life with someone. However, it is a language that people need to learn together and be willing to learn each other’s language if there is to be hope for a lasting love.
I'm a single lady living in the suburbs of Philadelphia with 2 cats named Leo and Toby (after characters on "The West Wing" - one day I will have the ability to recite the entire series by heart.That's a noble goal, yes?).
I've had a varied career doing a bunch of technical stuff that isn't that interesting to folks who aren't doing it but my real passion is writing.I also get the fabulous pleasure of coaching people from time to time and that brings me amazing joy and energy.
If you want to hang with me there are things you should know:I curse.A lot.I like hoppy beer.A lot.I like big and deep red wines. A lot. I adore my friends.A lot, a lot.I am passionate about politics (or a big geek about them - you choose).I'm an accidental but rather passionate Unitarian and few things make me happier than my dining room table surrounded by people I love.And picking paint colors, let's not forget that. Find me online here.