3 Tips to Stop Fighting NOW!
Fights happen in every relationship. If they aren’t happening, I’ll make a good guess that there is a lot of avoidance happening (more on that another time!)
Fights don’t feel good, but they can be useful for pushing your relationship further forward. They can get you unstuck, out of a rut, or bring up a conversation that needs to be talked about. You and your partner sit silently overlooking your issues day after day. The tension is slowly increasing bit by bit, and eventually it has to explode in order to get something accomplished. This is how fights can benefit your relationship.
Where fights become harmful to a relationship is when you slip into toxic communication such as yelling, personal attacks, withdrawing, or harsh criticism. If you are able to manage your fights, keeping them out of the toxic danger zone, they will be the catalyst to growing your relationship. You can use fights to deepen your bond and understand your partner on a new level!
So, how do you start to do this?
1. Remember that you’re on the same team
When you’re fighting with your partner you are operating like you are on opposing teams. When did that happen? Aren’t you supposed to be on the same team, fighting for the same goals? Yikes. You aren’t going to get anywhere if you are in opposition. Rather than fight against, you should both be on the same team fighting TOGETHER against a common enemy.
When you are upset, stop and take a breath. Look at the bigger picture. What are your shared goals as a couple? Maybe you both value family, or traveling together. If you focus on your connection and shared direction, you shift yourself into the role of a team mate, rather than a rival. Your goal in your relationship shouldn’t be to always be right or to win every argument. A more productive goal is to look for a SOLUTION. This isn’t always easy to do, but I promise you that it will lead to a happier relationship. So, next time you’re fighting, stop and think of the shared purpose you have with your partner. Remember that you want to win together, rather than alone. Look for solutions rather than being right.
2. Talk once your calm, not when you’re heated
If you and your partner try to solve issues in the heat of the moment, it will probably end in a big yelling match. NOT productive!! Your brain isn’t able to think clearly when you’re really mad. It make it much harder to be understanding, open, and receptive.
A better way to approach conflict is to wait until you’ve cooled down a bit. Give yourself a chance to think through your side of the issue. Recognize your own triggers, emotions, and background for feeling the way you feel. If you can master all of these things before speaking to your partner you will be SO much more grounded. You will be more open to their side (even if it is different than your perspective) and you will have a better handle on your emotions. You are less likely to blow up. That’s a win!
3. Remember to speak in short bursts of 1-2 sentences before allowing your partner to respond
This is a big one! I go over this in detail with all of my clients. If you are mad and you rattle off a whole paragraph of issues, your partner will 100% tune you out. Our brain can only handle so much. Our brain can also only handle so much self reflection about our own mistakes and flaws. When you go on and on your partner will feel attacked, they will feel vulnerable, and they will either shut down, attack back, or get defensive. Not helpful!
So, when you’re having a talk about a touchy subject stick to 2 sentences before you STOP and PAUSE and let your partner get a word in. Take a minute to make sure you’re both talking about the same thing, that you each understand each other, then get to problem solving!
Sometimes you can use a simple framework like this: 1 sentence about what you feel, 1 sentence about what occurred to make you feel this way, then STOP. Make sure your partner understand you. Once you’re on the same page, then you can include a sentence or 2 about what you’re like to do to solve this problem. Then STOP and let your partner respond. They can agree with your solutions, or offer their own solutions. They can give a couple of sentences before you chime in again. BAM! Done! Problem solved. You’re welcome ;)
So give these a try and get back to me. Does it work? What are the hardest things for you to try? Do you have other ideas?
Take care, and happy fighting!