It’s not what you fight about, it’s how you fight

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The cliche line comes spewing out of my mouth mid-argument, “If you think we’re fighting about the plans, you have no idea what we’re fighting about.” I see those eyes staring back at me in confusion.

We’ve all had these kinds of fights. The ones that could have been avoided if we said something sooner, before we were angry and just took the next opportunity to let it all out.

How did this happen? More importantly, how do I stop it from happening again?

 

A fight begins before words even enter the room. Sometimes our aggravation shows without words. We cross our arms, roll our eyes, put our irritated face on, and show more attitude than any word would ever display. You have sent a message that you are ready for the fight even before it even began.

The first words then get thrown, you’re coming in hot, and the tone is set. The other person feels attacked or blamed and the conversation is doomed.

I’m guilty of not having the ability to always keep my mouth shut. I might not even be angry, I just have something on my mind and freely throw it out without thinking. I can be so direct that it comes off differently than I intended.  This puts the other people on the defense right away, which inhibits them from really listening to my point.

Other times I know I’m being mean and it comes off exactly how it wanted it to. Nobody is perfect. We all have our moments, but it doesn’t make them ok.

Nobody likes feeling attacked. As humans, we have natural instincts to defend ourselves. Once in defense mode, the person isn’t listening to what you have to say. There main objective is not to compromise, it is to defend.

When the argument goes nowhere and I’m feeling extra defeated, I go into withdrawal. This is yet another mistake that draws out the argument.

If you need a 5 minute breather, fine. If you want to take a walk and talk about it later, fine. But make sure you come back. Shoving the problem to the side isn’t going to fix it. You’re going to sit and marinate in it.

So what should I do? How do I avoid this? How do I become a better fighter? One that can express myself, but not at the expensive of the other person’s feelings.

While studying social work, I was taught the importance of “I vs. You”. What a good idea it would be if I could utilize that in my own relationship and not just for work.

I have got to remember not to say, “You never listen to me. You cut me off whenever I start talking because you don’t care about how I feel.”

I need to say, ” When I get cut off, I feel unheard. It makes me feel like what’m saying isn’t important.”

That might sound silly and very “social worky”, but I promise it makes a difference.

I have a lot to work on, just like everyone else in the world. Relationships are hard. It doesn’t matter how in love, committed, faithful, or happy you are. There will be issues. Address them in a way that shows the other person that you love them. You will get much further in your relationship.

 

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