How to Fight and Stay Together

When you’re in a long-term relationship, fighting with your partner is inevitable. Whether it’s a small one about laundry or big, reoccurring one about money, every couple fights.

relationship difficulties: young couple having a fightBut there are healthy ways to argue with your partner that may actually lead to stronger bonds. Then, there are also unhealthy ways to argue that will damage the relationship and may lead to the end.

After all is said and done after a fight with your partner, it’s hard to not think about the words you should’ve said, or worse, the words you shouldn’t have said. But what makes some couples survive after blowout arguments and some break up? A new study found, the key to fighting with your partner is not in what you said or should not have said, but how you approach the conflict.

In a 14-year study of 79 married couples from the Midwest, John Gottman, founder of the Gottman Institute and University of California, Berkeley psychologist, Robert Levensen explored the predictability of divorce in early and later marriages. While 21 couples ended up divorcing over the course of their study, Gottman and Levensen noticed some key behaviors among couples who fought but managed to stay together in the end. Here’s what they found:

They Tackled Their Problems Immediately

Couples who ended up splitting took a lot longer to address arguments than couples who stayed together. In fact, those who separated let their partners “stew” for hours or days post-fight, while those who stayed together addressed their conflict immediately. As Gotten told Business Insider, think of it like you and your partner are in a boat. The emotions and feelings from your fight represent the sea. While a small argument “stirs the waters a bit and gets the boat rocking,” quickly stabilizing the boat via an open discussion can easily bring you back to smooth sailing. Furthermore, stalling can only strengthen the waves, thus causing bigger problems.
This actually keeps in line with a study published last year in the Journal of Counseling Psychology. In a study of 145 couples who received conflict management training, those who immediately addressed their conflict felt happier in their relationships in the long run than those who didn’t receive any sort of training.

They Allowed Each Other To Be Heard

Young woman crying while husband soothing her.Among those couples who got divorced, it was found that frequently cutting each other off during arguments were a common occurrence. In many cases, partners would throw out unhelpful or insensitive comments, which only served to make matters worse. Couples who were identified as “strong” on the other hand, approached the situation with an open mind. Most importantly, they took responsibility for their actions and listened to their partners.

n a 16-year study of 373 married couples published in 2010 in the Journal of Marriage and Family, it was found that when both partners “engaged positively during an argument” they were less likely to divorce than couples who didn’t have positive engagement or only had one partner put in any effort.

Generally, fights can be hard on a couple. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to do what you can to minimize damage. If you want to successfully come out of a fight stronger than ever, do what the couples in the study did. Tackle your problems immediately, keep an open mind, and make sure to listen to what they have to say. Don’t try to make yourself the “winner.” Because, let’s face it, when you’re fighting with your partner, there are no winners.

Curated by Erbe
Original Article

Why Couple Fights Over the Little Things is Just Plain Silly

Looking back, we all laugh at little couple fights. But in the moment, they can seem like a big deal.

A few months ago I lost my umbrella on the bus. It was a purple umbrella that I had just unpacked from my big move, and only one of two in the house. When I told Chris, he got annoyed.

Apparently, Chris had thought there was only one in the house, belonging to our roommate. He told me that I lost my roommate’s umbrella, which was brown. I told him over and over that the umbrella I lost was, in fact, purple, but he told me I needed to take responsibility for losing one that wasn’t mine..

The next morning, we found the brown umbrella. “I owe you the biggest apology in the world,” Chris said before hugging me. I was annoyed, but also smug about being right.

Honestly, these were the only types of arguments Chris and I really got into. I use past tense because we realized that these little spats weren’t really of anything substantial, so we became more aware of it and learned to talk things out calmly. At least we don’t argue about big things that can make or break a relationship, we thought.

small couple fights

However, a lot of couples aren’t able to curb these arguments. It is possible that the little things can, in fact, make or break a relationship. A lot of times, these spats can be a reflection of a lack of communication between a couple, which can lead to a very unhealthy dynamic. There will always be differences among two people who spend a lot of time together- it’s just about how you deal with them.

Chris didn’t think too much of our arguments when they were happening. While these arguments about little things like umbrellas and where to eat seemed catastrophic, in retrospect he believed that arguments happen between all couples, and that it was the sign of a healthy relationship.

I disagreed. Having been in bad relationships before, I have a hard time distinguishing between bickering and abuse, making me susceptible to feeling fragile and afraid of speaking up for myself. Chris is a wonderful boyfriend and someone who I completely trust and love with my whole heart, and I know he never wants me to feel that way. But, arguments do happen once in a while, a fact I should probably accept.

My mom, on the other hand, claims that she and her boyfriend have never had an argument in the almost two years that they have been dating. It’s a far cry from when she was with my dad, who would lash out and start fights constantly. Are she and her current boyfriend more compatible? Perhaps. More likely, though, is that the new boyfriend is much better at communicating than my father was.

I can’t stress that enough. The reason why Chris and I don’t fight anymore is because we’ve learned to communicate with each other. If one of us gets annoyed with the other over whatever reason, we talk it out. It took a few months of dating to really work out the bugs in our relationship, but now that we understand each other better, we’re able to empathize and understand our thought processes and emotions. It’s truly all about not just being self aware, but also having the patience to understand the other’s needs.

If we knew then what we know now, the umbrella fight probably wouldn’t have even happened. It probably would have started with Chris listening to me when I insisted that it was another umbrella, and me not retaliating with over-the-top emotions. We probably would have waited until we had gotten home to look for the brown umbrella, which we would have inevitably found, and we would forget about the whole thing without bickering.

Now of course, we just laugh about all of our dumb little fights. Not to say that we’ll never argue about anything ever again, but knowing what we know now, we’ll be able to avoid them as much as we possibly can. Our relationship is much healthier, due to a higher level of respect we have for each other, as well as ourselves.

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