In a relationship, some people expect a fight. Others look for one. Others run from one. Which are you?
And, there is one other approach: you can sidestep a fight.
Frequently, relationship problems turn into fights. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can stop that.
If you are looking for a fight in a troubled, or even in a relatively calm relationship, you’ll likely find it. It is possible, though, to change your focus.
Are you looking for a fight, or trying to make things right?
Your instant answer to that question makes all the difference to the success of your relationship.
Not long ago, I was working with a couple in a Co-Parenting for Divorced Couples class. The fellow was regaling me with how they have rapid fire conversations, sending text messages back and forth that get progressively more unpleasant. He had a smile on his face.
The couple recalled one interchange–almost pleased with themselves–in which she called him a “Deadbeat Dad” to which he had replied, “You’re a fat cow!” When I asked about this way of communicating and what they found so satisfying and amusing in it, the man replied that, although it was childish, it was fun. He said he enjoyed their exchange of insults, and here’s the kicker: He proudly said that, if she started it, he’d be sure to finish it, with a flourish!
Clearly, he loved the fight! And, just to add fuel to the first, the woman was unwilling to see her passive-aggressive tendencies, egging him on, and then, making him wrong for being upset. A match made in hell!
Does any of that sound familiar to you?
- Do you take some kind of perverse pleasure in one-upmanship?
- Do you feel superior, strong, or clever when you are putting others down?
- Do you enjoy the battle, and have no problem bringing bigger and bigger weapons into it?
- Do you like to see if you can push someone into losing their cool?
- Do you feel powerful when you can get a rise out of someone, and then, make them wrong for getting upset?
If any of those are familiar to you, you are looking for a fight. Those could not be farther from trying to make things right.
If you are the perpetrator of these things, you need to get some relationship help to explore what’s driving this. You are pushing people away for some reason, and you’d do well to figure that out sooner rather than later!
If you are on the receiving end of these behaviors, you can stop the fight by refusing to participate. You can be the one who can sidestep the angry, negative energy. You have to simply refuse to play this nasty game of lose-lose.
If you want things to change, both of you can use these four essential statements as soon as you realize that you are beginning to feel angry:
- I recognize that I am getting angry.
- I care about the relationship.
- I am going to withdraw and calm down. (Say what you are going to do: go for a walk, put on my headphones, exercise, watch a movie, run errands)
- I’ll be back at __________o’clock and we can talk about this then, or agree on a good time to talk about it.
Taking control of your anger in this way lets you know how powerful you really are. Fighting, whether it is bickering or blowouts, is damaging, hurtful, and unproductive. You know that all you do when you fight is make one more thing to throw at each other the next time you fight. That’s crazy!
What’s your answer? Are you looking for a fight in your relationship? Or, are you trying to make things right? That answer will make all the difference to the relationship problems you will be able to solve together.
HERE’S TODAY’S COUPLEOLOGY PODCAST:
Relationship problems need solutions, not stalemates! You are wise to work with a relationship expert as soon as possible if fighting is a frequent thing in your relationship. You’re just causing and perpetuating pain. That is definitely not love!