Healthy Fighting: How To Have Productive Arguments That Can Actually Improve Your Relationship
Just because you get over a fight doesn’t mean things are back to normal. How you fight is just as important as whether or not the fight is over. How you fight can leave permanent imprints on your relationship. Sometimes, it’s hard to unhear the things you heard during a fight or take back the things that have been said. But disagreements don’t always have to be so ugly. Can there be healthy fighting in a relationship? Do you know how to do it?
Do you actually talk about things?
First things first: Do you actually have a discussion? Or do you simply get angry, tell your partner you’re pissed, and then say you don’t want to talk about it anymore? That’s unhealthy. You need to have a back-and-forth discussion to talk and resolve things.
Do you take time apart after the fight?
If you say everything is fine after the argument, but then you take a few days away to visit your mom and don’t really answer your partner’s calls, that’s not healthy. You’re giving yourself the space to stew further. If you really want to forgive your partner, you need to stick with him after the fight and make peace, remembering all the reasons why you love him. If you go it alone, all you remember is the anger.
Do you bring in other’s opinions?
Do you say that, “Karen from work also thinks you’re too controlling!”? That’s not healthy or fair. How is your partner supposed to defend himself when you’re only telling one side of the story to strangers? And why does her opinion matter in your relationship?
Do you send him articles?
You find an article about the exact relationship issue you two were arguing about. The article takes your side on the matter. That’s not fair. You’re trying to tell your partner “Experts agree with me!” Well…experts aren’t in this relationship. You two are.
Do you slam doors?
There’s just no good reason for an adult to be slamming doors. Plus, it doesn’t solve anything (AND it’s probably damaging your door…).
Do you yell?
It’s hard for people in a relationship to truly understand one another when they’re screaming at the top of their lungs. It can create an overall feeling of animosity.
Do you swear at each other?
Swearing at each other accomplishes nothing, and is pretty malicious. You swear at drivers who cut you off. You swear at athletes on TV for making the wrong move. If you use the same words towards your partner that you use towards total strangers, that’s unhealthy.
Do you actually forgive each other?
Do you actually reset after a fight? Do you forgive and forget? Or, do you love your partner a little less? If you really worked things out, you should be able to move forward with a clean slate.
Do you bring up old issues?
One couple can only handle so many issues in one fight. Don’t consider an argument about one issue an open forum to bring up every unrelated problem that’s been bothering you.
Do you play tit for tat?
If you do something wrong and your partner calls you out, do you say, “Well, I didn’t say anything when you messed up last week”? That’s not healthy. If you’re going to keep score, you’ll never stop fighting. Own up to your mistake and move on.
Do you speak kindly to one another after the fight is over?
Do you make a point of speaking lovingly to one another after you’ve resolved the argument? It’s important to go out of your way to say loving words after a fight is over. It helps to patch things up. You can’t just say, “Cool, now that that’s over…whose turn is it to clean the bathroom?”
Do you make an actual plan to change things?
Do you talk about how one or both of you can do things differently in the future so that this fight doesn’t keep happening? If you don’t make a plan to prevent future disputes about the same things, you just wasted time and will waste even more time down the line.
Do you bring up past fights in front of others?
Don’t bring up arguments from the past while in the presence of others. That’s not fair. You inevitably manipulate it to make it seem like your partner is the one who messed up. But it’s not the appropriate time or place for your partner to delve into all your drama and get the story straight for your audience. You’ll leave him looking like the bad guy. Plus, if it’s a fight from your past, leave it in the past.
Do you say hurtful things that are irrelevant?
Sometimes your partner needs to hear hard truths. But when you argue, before you say something hurtful, ask yourself, “Do these words ultimately help our relationship?” If not, you’re just acting out of anger.