There are always efforts required to maintain any relationship. Over some time a person’s flaws become visible as opposed to the qualities which attracted us to them in the beginning. The same is for people who have a bond with us. Ups and downs are a part of any relationship but seeking help show that you care about the relationship enough to fix it. People who are closest to us, end up fighting with us the most. It’s not because the positive feelings are not present anymore but maybe the expectations are too high for their partner since they’re closest to us.
There are certain fair fighting rules which are to be maintained in any relationship to prevent an argument. The way we have rules in sports and if anybody does not adhere to them there’s a penalty. Similarly, we should have rules for fighting as well. After all conflicts with our intimate partners affect us deeply.
Let’s take a look at them-
- No degrading language – Name-calling, insults, criticising, and swearing should be avoided. The person should be able to feel safe around you even during conflicts.
- No blaming – Blaming serves no purpose and nobody likes to be spoken in a blaming tone as this leads to the person becoming defensive and the focus is shifted from the problem. It becomes You VS I instead of Us VS The Problem.
- No yelling – Even though during conflicts we want to make ourselves heard and we’d go to any extent for it to happen. Screaming or yelling does not help instead take some time out.
- No use of force – Extremely important. No matter who you are there’s no justification for using force during a conflict. This threatens the person’s sense of being and safety.
- No talk of divorce/breakup- This is quite manipulative and hurtful. If you’re in a relationship then such statements can make the person anxious and increase their fear of abandonment and neglect. It can lead them to mistrust people and increase their insecurities.
- Define yourself, not your spouse – Talk about your feelings, thoughts, and actions, not your partner’s. You might be living with them for years but still, that’s not enough to know a person completely. It’s difficult to view everything from their lens and we can lose perspective. Hence, talk about yourself only, don’t make assumptions about them and their behaviours.
- Stay in the present – bringing up old issues will only make the present worse. If there’s a problem in the present, address that as the past is done, it can’t be changed but there’s scope to improve the present.
- Take turns speaking – most often we’re quick to react but not reflect. Instead of just waiting for your turn, listen to the person. It’s not a competition and even in debate competitions rules are followed and participants take turns to speak, give their opinions, their reasons for it, and give answers to the questions asked.
- When necessary take time-outs – If the atmosphere is too tense then it’s better to take some time out to cool down and gain perspective otherwise it’ll lead to more conflicts. A time-out should not be more than 24 hours. After the time out both, partners should sit down together and come up with solutions to the problem mutually.
These rules of fighting in real life will help you and your partner a lot. These are to be followed by both the teams of course.
Gottman’s 4 Horsemen and their antidotes is another method of having a constructive conflict. This includes 4 behaviours that should be avoided in case of an argument. These are-
As much as love to be right and hate to be told that we’re wrong, we sometimes can engage in behaviours that are not exactly right no matter how much justification we give, and in such situations, it requires courage from the person to accept that they are wrong. We all have situations that give rise to certain behaviours but if they hurt others then we might need to reflect on them and own up to them. What can be done to avoid
Taking responsibility is the first step if we have broken the trust of our partner.
Extending compassion and care to the other person whom we have hurt and trying to win their trust back.
Being honest about your expectations. Most often than not we’re disappointed not because of the other person’s actions but because of our expectations therefore managing and communicating our expectations is important.
Avoid being in a co-dependent relationship. This means you should have your own thing to involve yourself in such as your hobbies, and your friends.
Plan regular ‘interventions’ to talk about important topics such as money, spending time together, intimacy, etc. This is crucial so that an argument does not lead to all the issues at once.
Have some adjustments for the other person. This includes having a ‘Me time’ such as working out in the gym, hanging out with friends and encouraging your partner to do the same. It’s important to accommodate each other’s needs and wants.
Hugging is extremely beneficial as it releases oxytocin. Hugging, and holding hands are small but meaningful gestures that make us feel good and secure.
Try something fun and exciting with your partner, as suggested in relationship counselling. Trying out something new together such as pottery or rock climbing can help rekindle the relationship, and be a change from the same old routine.
Try to be grateful for your partner. Try to notice the things you liked in them initially and explore and focus on their strengths, trying to remember the time when they used those qualities and how they made you feel. Many times we forget what we have because we’re focusing on what we don’t. Therefore, notice what is ‘right’ instead of only pointing out what is wrong.
Verbally appreciate them for the things they do. Sometimes, things that the other person does for us go unnoticed because we’re used to it. Using phrases such as ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ is important no matter how old the relationship is.
Practising forgiveness and avoiding dwelling on the past are also important things to keep in mind if you want to rebuild your relationship.
Reflect on your emotions and communicate them calmly, understand your partner’s feelings, take their perspective, and convey to them what you understood to be sure. No need to prove who’s right and who’s wrong since we all have our perceptions and justifications.
Don’t be quick to react and answer back instead take some time out to introspect and then respond. We all want to be heard so we should also be ready to listen to the other person. It’s your decision do you want to be right or do you want to be in the relationship?
However, if there are any kind of abuse or red flags then they should not be ignored because sometimes getting out of a toxic and unhealthy relationship is very important for our mental health so take action and break out. Take the necessary steps to get out.
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