You can try to avoid conflict by tamping down negative emotions and brushing seemingly minor issues under the rug, but at some point, they will come back to bite you. Many times this is in the form of a blowup that is completely disproportional to whatever seemed to trigger it. You end up fighting not only about the topic at hand but ten other previously unaddressed issues as well.
As uncomfortable as it can be, the best way to avoid this situation and grow as a couple is to deal with issues as they occur. Studies have shown that it is not whether a couple fights that predicts divorce, but how they fight.
Here are some tips for fighting respectfully and making an argument an opportunity for growth and resolution:
- Focus on the behavior, not the person. Imagine being on the receiving end of these statements: “You are such an inconsiderate jerk!” and, “I’m really mad that you forgot about our plans tonight.” The first one feels a bit harsh, doesn’t it? Understandable, since it is attacking you as a person. The second one, while perhaps still not pleasant, is simply calling you out on your actions.
You might be surprised by the increased sense of connection and intimacy in your relationship after working through an issue by “fighting fair”. Conflict can be constructive! If we take a breathe and think about our response in those heated moments, we can make conflict an opportunity to grow as a couple.
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