Yes, happy couples fight. Fighting all the time is a red flag. Not fighting at all is also a red flag. But what about those who don’t fight often but when they do, it gets ugly in a hurry?
There are caring ways to fight. That may sound contradictory but conflict is a necessary part of life. It’s unavoidable. How we deal with it is the negotiable aspect.
Do we fly off the handle or become passive-aggressive or turn it into a contest? There are so many ways to fight unproductively. However, it is quite possible to create a foundation upon which confrontation is not tantamount to war.
6 Caring Ways to Fight in a Relationship
- Check the power dynamics
Whether we admit or not—whether we like it or not—there are factors that give some of us an unfair advantage. Gender, age, size, etc.—these dynamics can shape a confrontation. Check yourself and your partner. Communicate about imbalances in advance. Lay the groundwork for productive fighting.
- Fight fair
No matter how mad you are or how frustrated you get, your words and actions have ramifications. One can make a case that it’s never acceptable to fall back on name-calling and low blows. But this is your partner. It’s not someone who stole your parking space. Under no circumstances should your language become abusive or your behavior threatening.
- Accept that you can and often are wrong
It’s fine to feel strongly about things. Sometimes it’s necessary. But again, never forget who it is you’re fighting with. This isn’t a barroom debate about football teams. In relationship arguments, nuance reigns supreme. You can be right and wrong at the same time. Don’t stubbornly hold a point just to make a point.
- Be specific
If something is upsetting you, spell it out. Clarity helps keep disagreements from turning into grudges. There is nothing to gain from vagueness or passive-aggression except misunderstanding. Be specific and request the same of your significant other.
- Be willing to embrace compromise
Couples arguments rarely end with a clear resolution. If you both expect and accept compromise, the length and intensity of the argument can decrease. Often times, you’ll revisit the issue at a later time—with cooler heads. That’s when you’ll be so grateful to have chosen compromise over demanding a clear consensus.
- Learn how to makeup, soothe, and create a safe space
Arguments can be stressful and feel quite disruptive. As a team, you must commit to some form of aftercare. No matter how things “end,” it’s crucial to create a safe space afterward. Reevaluate what was said and done. Apologize if necessary. Make up if necessary. But no matter what, soothe each other. Remind each other that your connection is bigger than any single disagreement.
Sometimes we need a fight instructor
When pondering caring ways to fight, we may come to the realization that we can’t manage our emotions. This important epiphany must be followed up by seeking help. Without some form of self-control, arguments become the norm. Also, arguments turning into ugly fights become the norm. Individual and couple counselling is a proven path for addressing this serious concern.
In addition, this line of thinking may highlight the reality that you and your partner are fighting for deeper reasons than first imagined. We argue vehemently about the shortest driving route to a party. But what we’re really doing is acting out an unspoken frustration or resentment. In this case, it’s couples counseling that should be contemplated. Learn to identify the underlying causes and you’ll find yourselves in fewer arguments. And when they happen, you’ll choose compassionate ways to fight. Learn how to be in a win-win communication dance with one another!