Navigating Through Conflict In Relationships. Four Steps To Fighting Smarter
The longest relationship I was ever in was a great one. It was easy. At that time, easy was exactly what I wanted.
What I didn’t expect was how unrealistic that made some of my expectations. We were in a continuous honeymoon phase until we just eventually fizzled out and moved towards a great friendship rather than a relationship.
I’m sure there are a few reasons why we eventually fizzled out, but one thing that sticks out to me is that we never had any conflict. We never really had to adapt, compromise and work together to reach a goal of sorts.
Sure, no one likes fighting with their partner, but not fighting at all may not be great either.
Turns out, conflict is normal. Once the honeymoon stage is over, you’ve spent enough time with your partner to notice differences.
When it comes to accepting conflict as part of a relationship, it’s important to note the types of conflicts you guys are having. If the conflict involves infidelity, abuse, addiction, etc. it should be taken very seriously, and you need to reconsider even remaining in that relationship in the first place.
Other smaller conflicts are not deal breakers. When you are in a relationship with someone, you are committing to them. You commit to them through the good and the bad. Ultimately, it’s the love you guys have for each other that make sticking around worth it.
So if you find yourself fighting with your partner, make sure you guys are fighting the right way.
In times of argument, it’s hard to keep certain things in mind, but I find it very helpful to have boundaries already set in place in order to have respectful arguments.
Some boundaries to consider:
- No cussing or name calling: Listen, as someone who loves saying fuck often, I get how tempting it is to cuss in a heated moment. However, it will not get you to an agreement with a partner. For respect of him/her, avoid name calling.
- “I” statements: Every complaint has a request hidden inside. Instead of saying “You don’t make time for me,” try taking the blame out of it and talk about how it makes you feel. If you’re feeling like your partner isn’t making time for you say something like, “I know how swamped you’ve been with work lately, but I’ve been feeling like less of a priority recently. How about I bring dinner over and we can spend a little time together tonight?”
- Know your triggers: We all have triggers. I’m still learning what some of mine are. Communicate what your triggers are to your partner and vice versa. That way, when you’re reacting to a specific trigger, it’ll be easier to deal with afterwards if you and your partner know it’s an extra hard situation for you.
- Know when to give space: Attachment theory is maybe my favorite thing in the whole world. Understanding your attachment style and the attachment style of your parter is CRUCIAL in understanding what your partner needs. By knowing your partner’s attachment style, you’ll know if your partner needs space or extra lovin’. A lot of couples are scared of giving their partners space in a time of conflict. However, space is actually a really great tool for allowing both parties to cool down, assess the situation and come back together in a more loving way.