Life has suddenly taken on a new dimension. Thrust into social isolation with limited daily interactions, the independence you had to be yourself separate from your relationship has all but diminished. If you are forced to work at home it leaves shower time, exercise, and trips to the shops as the only opportunities to be alone.
Everybody needs their own space and the ability to express different personas. The workplace, within social groups, interacting with family and friends, or at sporting events, a variety of day-to-day interactions allow the freedom of social expression. Having it taken away adds a foreign dimension of pressure to a relationship.
On an average day, there are numerous potential experiences and people who push your buttons, enabling you to let off steam and self-express the annoyances. Be it to an inconsiderate driver who just cut you off, the annoying telemarketer who happened to call at the wrong time, or the waitress delivering your meal which failed to meet your expectations. Snapping at an innocent bystander when you are frustrated does little damage to your life but when daily frustrations surface and the only people to take them out on is your partner, children or housemate the fallout can have long term irreversible consequences.
Arguing is a natural part of life, different perspectives, values and priorities motivate different responses. To argue in a healthy manner can bring you closer and foster better relationships through a deeper understanding of each other’s needs. But the same is true in reverse where constant unhealthy arguments can do irreparable damage. Don’t put your relationship at risk, here are the dos and don’ts of fighting fairly and staying strong through any crisis.
React in anger
Before you speak, ask yourself, Is anger the most productive way to get what I want? Projecting anger on your partner or children so they are forced to be submissive or fight back damages long term trust and stability.
You are entitled to feel how you feel but avoid projecting blame for your unmet expectations.
There is a time and place to vent, in front of others might not be avoidable but never involve third parties into the fight by asking them to agree.
Stay consistent in your commitment, don’t threaten to break up, end the relationship, or ask them to sleep on the couch in the heat of the moment. It breaks the bond of safety.
Bring up past unresolved events
Keep it relevant and respectful. Opening up wounds and blindsiding your partner with unrelated incidents in order to win a fight is unfair and will cause a knee jerk defence reaction escalating the problem.
Make your grievances about the way you feel rather than personally attacking the other person. Always use the words ‘I feel’ rather than “you make me feel’ or ‘you didn’t’.
Know when to sleep on it
Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is get a good night’s sleep. Trying to resolve every issue when emotions are high is rarely productive— things often look different when you have slept on it and you’ve both had time to reset your emotions.
Be brave and speak up
Biting your tongue and sweeping things under the rug because it does not seem significant to bring up then releasing Godzilla out of nowhere is unfair on both you and your partner.
Keep it above the belt
If things start escalating and getting heated and the fight isn’t going well it is best to shut it down. When you are upset your brain slips into reflex mode of fight or flight which triggers the release of stress hormones. Logic and communication go out the window. You’re both saying hurtful things you can’t take back.
Come from a place of love with compliments
The easiest way to diffuse any argument is to see the other person with an open heart. Next time you are in an argument if you stop and remember something positive you like and give a compliment it dissolves anger and empowers both parties.
There is a way to fight fairly as long as there are boundaries if you remember every person including your partner and children have a different set of priorities and nobody will see things your way the best you can do is use emotional intelligence to express yourself.
The Carousel would like to thank Louanne Ward for her article.