“The more arguments you win, the less friends you will have”
~ American Parable
Let’s face it, there’s no class you can take on relationships before you enter into one. Most of us got our relationship skills from our parents, which doesn’t say much.
Fights between partners are often emotionally charged and highly stressful. This stress and emotion lead us to say and do things that tear down the relationship rather than improve it; unless we fight relationally.
It’s difficult to fight relationally if you aren’t aware of your issues, your partner’s issues, and what healthy relational skills look like, but there are some basic things you can avoid doing to help repair the situation the right way.
Here are 8 crucial mistakes you should avoid like the plague when fighting with your partner:
1. You try to win for the sake of winning or you try to win every time.
Relationships thrive on maturity. If you’re trying to win an argument simply to “save face”, you’re going about it all wrong.
This isn’t about pride, it’s about repair. Unless you enjoy being in a state of turmoil all the time, it will serve you well to just repair the situation as quickly as possible, regardless of whether you win or lose.
If you’re wrong, admit you’re wrong.
2. You make it personal.
You and your partner are on the same team. You both have the same ultimate goal. When you argue, try to reach that goal together instead of battling against each other. It isn’t your goal to fight, it’s your goal to be satisfied in a healthy relationship.
Arguments can become unhealthy very quickly if you make it personal. Calling names, talking about family members, and making fun crosses the line. As I said before, relationships thrive on maturity; if you make it personal, be prepared to fight forever, or at least until the relationship dies.
3. You bring up the past or unrelated events.
The past is done.
Nothing in the past concerns us because it has nothing to do with the problem at hand. If the same behavior is happening over and over and you’re just now addressing it, that’s your fault. When fighting with your partner, put your focus on the now.
Another thing to avoid is bringing up unrelated events. If there are other behaviors you’re upset about, address them as they happen, don’t pull them into the current argument. If your husband forgot to pay the bills, you shouldn’t bring up the fact that he always forgets to take out the trash also.
4. You fight in the wrong place.
Where do arguments between you and your partner generally take place? Now think about all the different places you’ve argued with them.
Do you remember having any arguments in public? What about in front of friends or other couples? In the car?
There are certain places it’s okay to fight and certain places that should be considered off limits. For one, it’s inconsiderate to others, and two, it’s hard to give your partner and the issue your full attention when there are distractions around.
As far as fighting in the car goes, it’s not a good idea because it’s not safe; it takes your attention off the road.
Agree with your partner to never fight in places you label as off limits. Save it until you get home or move to a private area.
5. You have an audience.
We just talked about fighting in the wrong places and in front of others. In this case, I’m going to talk specifically about your children, or children in general.
Children learn relationship techniques through observation and they grow up to use those techniques later in life. I don’t suggest letting your children watch you argue unless you’re awesome at doing it in a healthy manner. If there’s too much emotion or any unhealthy behavior whatsoever, make sure they aren’t in ear shot.
If you have somewhat mastered the art of healthy discussion with your partner, doing so when your children are around is okay because it teaches them first hand how they should be relating with people they love; it teaches them healthy techniques.
6. You let your emotions run wild.
I’ll say it again because I know the third time’s a charm; relationships thrive on maturity. One of the marks of a mature person is the ability to control emotion.
I grew up with a raging father and my parents would constantly fight. They’d both get into it and I was forced into trying to break it up and calm everyone down. Needless to say, this did a lot of damage to me relationally because it’s not a healthy thing for a child to have to do.
When fighting with your partner, it’s extremely important that you both remain civil, you keep the tone down, and you show respect to each other.
7. You refuse to listen.
This kind of goes in hand with the first point, winning for the sake of winning. When we get into fights with our partner, there’s a part of us that just doesn’t want to be wrong. If we don’t learn to subdue this part of us, we fall into the trap of not listening.
When you don’t listen to your partner, you can’t grasp how they feel, what their side of the story is, or their proposed resolution; all you hear is noise and the only thing you search for in their communication is submission.
Listening is probably the most important thing to do when fighting. For this reason, when I argue with my wife, my first step is to shut up and hear what she’s saying before I start with my side (if my side is even necessary).
8. You finish it on a negative note or without resolution.
Have you ever gotten the silent treatment?
I’ve never gotten it from my wife and we’ve never gone to bed angry. We’ve walked away to cool off, but we always come back and repair the situation.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case of the majority of couples. Too many people fight, fail to come to a resolution, and then walk around for days with built up anger and animosity toward their partner.
Finishing on a positive note and with a resolution generally takes two healthy people, but you can start by doing the best you can on your end. Consequently, if you aren’t making mistakes 1 – 7, it will be easier to repair the situation.