Personally, I always give a side-eye to people who use the phrase “We never fight!” when discussing their significant other. Really? You never fight? I find that hard to believe. Fights in relationships are absolutely normal. If your fights get physical or borderline abusive, that’s another story – do everything you can to dump this guy and move forward. But if it’s an argument about him refusing to mention that his cousin would be crashing at your place for a few days, or if he’s just become kind of irresponsible with spending money recently, realize that your calm conversation might morph into a pretty gnarly fight within minutes.
If you want to be heard, and avoid days of childishly giving each other the silent treatment, here are some tips on effective ways to get your point across.
- Don’t talk over each other. You probably don’t even realize you’re doing it, but it happens all the time. Let him get his sentences out, and ask him to treat you with the same respect. If you cut in and try to negate his feelings, it’ll just turn into a match of “who can be louder?”
- Don’t get into it late at night. It’s tough to avoid, especially if you and your guy have similar work schedules and don’t have too much time to hang out with each other during the day. It’s horrible to fight at night, since that might lead to someone sleeping on the couch, thus ruining the goal of never going to bed angry. Chances are, you’re a little too tired to be thinking rationally at all by this point anyway. You’ll be replaying the fight over and over in your head, and you’ll be groggy and sad tomorrow morning — trust me, you don’t want to ruin an entire day based on a disagreement from yesterday. Reclaim your bedroom as a place for peace and relaxation. And sleep, of course.
- See things from his perspective. It seems like a no-brainer, but both of you need to kind of visualize the situation from another standpoint. If he’s been bringing work home based on a huge project these past few weeks, he might have gotten out of the habit of doing his share of laundry. He’d appreciate “I know you’ve been busy, but would you mind throwing some of your clothes in the wash before you start working tonight? I can shift them into the dryer for you,” rather than “Your clothes are piling up, and it’s disgusting!” Work together to get back in sync.
- Use “we”, not “you”. You’re a team now, especially if he put a ring on it. Even if you feel the need to say “you”, it’s definitely a targeted word. “We need to do a better job spending some time together” is a lot less heated than “You need to do a better job with spending time with me.”
- Remember that yelling solves nothing. Yelling definitely feels great sometime, but it’s the quickest way to make a fight escalate. Once you raise your voice, you pretty much turn up the anger from zero to ten. You and your guy need to remember that communication works best if issues are casually brought up as they happen, before it resorts to noise.
- Walk it off. If you’re at a point where your fight is going nowhere, walk it off. By briefly leaving the situation, you’ll be able to re-evaluate things in your head and come back with a clean slate. He’ll also get a second to try and figure out a way to calmly and kindly state his opinions. Round two will always be a lot better than round one.
- Don’t threaten a break up. When we feel weak and defenseless, we might be willing to gamble the one thing that we know we have control of — ourselves. It’s cruel to try and get the ball back in our court by threatening to walk out, and stating these intentions will make you feel like garbage once things are back to being calm. If you’re not serious, you’re damaging the relationship so much more. However, if you’ve been fighting a lot and feel like a honest-to-goodness breakup might be on the horizon, remember that breaking up in the midst of a fight will plague you for months to follow. It’s a harsh way to call it quits.
- Don’t repeat history. Ever have the same fight with your guy over and over again? Obviously something wasn’t communicated properly. Instead of anticipating the next bill-related fight, try and see what’s going wrong. Do you shut off when he gets in a lengthy chat about money transfers? Does he get off topic the second he sees you near tears? Do you blow up and give each other the silent treatment until you forget what you’re fighting about? We’re all human. Aiming to fix the communication barrier after the fact will show him that you want things to be better in the future.
- Stop, collaborate and listen. When your guy feels like he’s in a comfortable place to open up to you, he will. If he feels like he’ll immediately be judged and ignored, he won’t. Successful couples need to listen to each other and give each other full attention. You probably wouldn’t want to tell him about your day while he’s playing video games, right? So you shouldn’t be checking up on Facebook while he’s telling you about his. This behavior will make our future fights even worse, because we’re just not used to addressing hot topics eye-to-eye.
- Don’t insult each other. It’s one thing to state your point of view, but it’s another to make a mockery of someone else’s feelings. Both of you need to remember that bringing your partner down won’t bring you up, or give you control of the fight. Never forget that you love each other (or at least, severely like each other) and you can never fully take back words. If he insults you, put a stop to it immediately before it gets out of control. Tell him how you feel, and take a break from the fight before it gets out of hand.