How to Fight with your Significant Other

By: Tylene Nichols

I am going to be completely honest, I have never had a fight with my husband. I know what you are thinking. “You must live in some fairy tale romance that doesn’t exist. You have got to be kidding yourself! You are crazy!” Don’t worry I get these responses a lot. Contrary to popular opinion I do NOT live in some fairy tale romance. I am NOT kidding myself, and maybe I am crazy, but that is not the point.

       Let me clear a few things up first. The definition of ‘fighting’ that I am referring to involves yelling, loud arguing, rude comments, judgmental words, and/or silent treatments. At times my husband and I do disagree. We have an average amount of conflict in our relationship and do not respond to each other in the best ways all the time. Sometimes I need to take a few minutes for myself before I resume a conversation, but we do not fight.

       Growing up I witnessed a lot of fighting between my parents. Most of the time I would retreat to my room because of the hurtful things they would say to each other. It would break my heart and I did not want to hear them anymore. One fight in particular, they had outside my bedroom window I remember praying that they would stop and hold each other and come back inside. One of my teachers talked about how he never fought with his wife and I thought he was absolutely insane. I did not believe that even existed. After I thought about this idea of a non-fighting marriage, I knew that would be something I personally wanted to work towards.

       Yes, it is completely possible to have a healthy relationship with conflict and still not fight with the person you love. Actually, it’s perfectly normal and incredibly healthy to have conflict in a relationship. If you married someone you always got along with perfectly, I would recommend admitting you to a mental institution. Encountering daily conflict or disagreements just gives your relationship a chance to grow and become stronger. It can also help to keep things a little interesting at times!

       So… how do you “fight” with your significant other? Let’s go over a few things that have worked for me and many other people who work towards maintaining healthy methods of conflict resolution.

  1. Watch Your Mouth! When a conflict or disagreement arises, so do tempers and anger. It is almost instinct to immediately go on the defensive and turn the blame the other direction. Be aware of the tone you use when discussing touchy topics and also the volume. Screaming and sarcasm do not invite the air of understanding and compassion.

  2. Take a breath and count to ten. Or take a nap. Whatever works for you. I have found that when I can step aside for a few minutes to collect my thoughts and relax, I feel less of a desire to bring out the torches and pitchforks. Sometimes having a little “me time” can help you to personally see what is making you upset. Minutes of peace can make all the difference if a discussion is starting to become heated.

  3. Me, Myself, and I. Well mostly just the “I” part. One of the best ways to discuss a difficult topic is to use “I feel…” sentences. For example, “I feel that my work around the house is not appreciate at times” is normally received much better than “You never appreciate anything that I do!” (Did you read that dramatically in your head?) Focus on expressing exactly how you are feeling without placing the blame on someone else as much as possible. No one likes to be a target.

  4. Talk the talk. Most disagreements or misunderstandings can be easily avoided with open and honest communication. I know this is super cheesy. However, keeping something hidden to rot inside you just means that when it finally comes out it is going to be ugly. It will be appreciated if you honestly say what may be bothering you.

  5. Take a hit. Sometimes believe it or not, you may be the cause of conflict or a misunderstanding. It is never easy to be wrong, but it is much easier to learn from the mistake and move on. I still feel completely broken if my husband explains that something I may have said or done had hurt him in some way, but I know that it is much more helpful to be aware of these things and improve on them.

These are just a few basic tips to encourage you to think about the way you handle conflict in your relationship. Don’t let fighting be a huge downer in your relationship. Let conflict be a stepping-stone to a stronger and more enjoyable love.

And if none of this works, strip down naked and sit facing each other knee to knee. Let me know how long you can fight like that!