Based on the acclaimed book, Peace Q: Increasing the Capacity for Peace Within and Beyond by Jennifer Freed, PhD.
Fighting in a relationship is not a big problem. How you fight with a mate or a friend is the real issue. John Gottman’s research shows arguments and perpetual issues are healthy in committed relationships as long as couples know how to resolve difficulties as they arise. If you are authentic and honest, you will disagree with your partner, get hurt and be angry at times. Working through hurt and anger are the pathway for true intimacy.
Couples that report high satisfaction in their relationships know how to work with the inevitable ruptures or disagreements that come up from time to time. These couples can find humor in the reoccurring themes of their arguments.
On the other hand, making a wall out of anger leads to distance and contempt. Bad habit fighters rarely feel they have resolution or closeness from conflict. They usually live in a world of emotional bruises that never seem to heal.
Signs of bad fighting habits
Using five or more of these tactics mans you are eroding healthy relationships and need to learn the good fight. It’s never too late to learn better communication. Here are the signs:
- Blaming your partner for their faults
- Calling your partner names or expletives
- Lashing out when you are inebriated
- Cutting your partner off when you are hurt
- Responding to your partner’s complaints with your own
- Threatening to leave the relationship / physical violence
Good fight tactics all involve one premise: being close than right. Unfortunately, most people have been taught they must fight to win. Winning means losing love.
- Only one person talks at a time
- Take time out to cool down – it’s healthy and helpful when one person becomes flooded with uncontrollable emotion
- Agree on a time to talk and make time for an in-depth discussion
- Understand the differences presented in the conflict
- Choose a physical location that protects your privacy and offers an opportunity to express vulnerable emotions
- Both parties are rested and sober
Signs of a good fighter
- Accountability for behavior
- Making requests instead of complaints
- Listening more than speaking
- Willing to reveal fears and vulnerabilities
- Acknowledging your partner’s point of view
The good fight is a fight for love instead of righteousness. A battle for true understanding instead of revenge and a struggle for authentic revelation instead of defensive competition.