Friday, July 23, 2010

More Notes on Fighting

Keep in mind:

(1) No fight, except maybe some fights between Compromisers, will follow all of the rules set out in the last few posts. You will almost never get a fight right. And that’s okay. You always get a second chance to make the fight right. Don’t avoid the touchy subject because it caused a fight that had no resolution. It can be hard to bring the topic up again later when you’ve calmed down and no longer feel the overwhelming emotional need to vent, but you need to address it again later if the issue was not resolved. Take the second chance. Bring the issue up again under better circumstances and resolve it (if you can).

(2) People exaggerate and overgeneralize their accusations and complaints during fights, especially if the complaint has been stored up for a long time. So don’t get distracted or offended by the extreme way the complaint is being lodged. Listen for the truth in what she is saying. Don’t dismiss the complaint because it was overstated.

(3) The relationship isn’t over if you fight. How many times have opposing protons smashed into each other in the Hadron Collider? Millions. Billions. And no black hole has been created. Yet. That we know of. I don’t know of any relationship that ended because of one bad fight. Fighting is a good sign. If you agree all the time, one or the other or both of you are not getting to express your individuality. If you haven’t had a fight in the first year, either there is something wrong or you’re both Avoiders, which is fine but you *both* have to be Avoiders.

And the relationship isn’t necessarily over if the issue about which you were fighting does not get resolved. Some problems are not resolvable. This doesn’t mean the relationship can’t work. Ask any couple who has been married for more than five years (under five years and they’ll lie). Every couple has at least one area of conflict about which they do not agree and can not come to resolution on. They may be forced to compromise, but that does not mean the problem has ceased to exist. Examples of these kinds of irresolvable conflicts? Being at opposite ends of the continuum on desired frequency of sex. Being a neat freak paired with a slob. Being religious and wanting the other one to participate when the partner is an atheist. No one is changing his/her mind. And no one’s behavior is going to change radically. The slob will never be neat enough, and the neat freak will never be relaxed around messes. You’ve got to decide which irresolvable problems you’re willing to live with and which are deal breakers.

Up next: What are fights really about anyway?

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