“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.” (Neil Gaiman)
Ahhh to be in love… so despite the picture perfect romances we read about and see on TV, love isn’t all peaches and roses. Love is usually much more messy and imperfect. Simple misunderstandings turn to hurt feelings, hurt feelings can lead to betrayal and enormously blown out of proportion arguments. Do your fights with your lover leave you exhausted, unheard and feeling like you accomplished nothing? Navigating the rocky waters of love can be difficult. You want to be able to make it through a fight with your lover in one piece, with your dignity still intact. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. These reminders can help you stay classy while still preserving your relationship.
Please, I’m begging you! Learn how to fight fair. Maybe this isn’t how your family argued growing up. Well guess what, you’re older and wiser now and if you want a successful relationship you need to learn this skill. If you do any of the following things when fighting with your significant other you are forcing a wedge between the two of you that will get more and more difficult to fix. No name-calling and no insults! I promise you this will get you nowhere good. You more than likely are going to regret the things you say and it will stay with your partner. Keep your voice as calm as possible. I know it is hard in the heat of the moment, but yelling loud does not help you win the argument. Do not bring up the past. Each argument you have should teach you a lesson and move your relationship forward. If you are stuck in the past, your relationship is also stuck. Finish one argument and be done with it. If an issue still needs to be addressed, bring it up at a later date. This is not the time to be spewing out a laundry list of all the things your partner does wrong!
Examine Your Own Insecurities
A lot of the time arguments are triggered by our own insecurities. (Wait a minute…it’s not always his fault?) If we are feeling jealous, unworthy, unlovable, anxious or afraid in our relationship, this tends to show up in our fights as well. We project these feelings onto our lover and look for ways to validate that they are right. For example, maybe you think that you are not pretty, skinny, funny enough for your lover. When he happens to glance at another girl walking by, you freak out and all of your worst fears are confirmed. Except they usually aren’t. Relationships are a great way to learn and grow ourselves. Make sure you are always striving to learn and grow. Next time you begin to blame and shame your significant other, think about the role insecurities might play and begin the process of getting a handle on it. Whether that is through self-help books, journaling, coaching, counseling, spirituality etc. You owe it to your partner to be your best self.
Throw Away the Crystal Ball
Please help yourself and help your partner by throwing away the idea that you can read each others’ mind. I know as a woman, we like to think we know everything. (Admit it, it’s true…) We’ve thought it over all night, analyzed the crap out of the situation and have come to some conclusion that it’s all their fault. But in reality we don’t know what is really going on in someone else’s head. I would say, the majority of the time, our lovers do not do something to be malicious, mean or conniving, maybe just a bit careless and inconsiderate. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt that what they did was not done to purposely hurt us. Sincerely ask them about the situation in question and really listen to their answer.
The second part of this is equally as important. Your boyfriend or girlfriend cannot read your mind! How many arguments could be avoided if we just remembered this one thing? Tell them exactly why you’re upset. Tell them exactly how it made you feel. And tell them exactly what you want them to do. This isn’t a time to be mysterious. If you want your man to help with the cleaning, ask him. If you need more attention from your lover, ask her. Don’t assume they know exactly what you want and how to please you. This will only end in frustration and tears.
Despite what you might think it is not your partner’s job to make you feel better. But wait, shouldn’t my partner want to make me happy? Sure, we all want the best for our loved ones, but that does not make us responsible for their actions and emotions. The only person you have control over is yourself, the only person who’s emotions you have control over is yourself. This may be aligned with taking responsibility for your insecurities. You feel a certain way and that’s ok. But these are your feelings.
Just like a baby whose parents are letting her cry it out in order to learn to fall asleep on her own, you need to learn how to self-soothe. When you have worked yourself up to the point of tears, screaming, aggression and exhaustion, it is time to pause and get yourself back together. What works to calm yourself down and bring you back to a peaceful place? Do you need a cup of tea? A yoga session? A walk? Find out what works for you. When you come back to your partner you will be coming back from a place of love rather than fear.
Come Full Circle
You’ve had your argument, now it’s time to make up. This step is just as important, if not more so than all of the rest. Reestablishing a connection after a fight draws you closer together. Don’t be too macho to say you’re sorry (even if you don’t think you did anything wrong). Ask the other person for forgiveness. Establish what each person can do differently going forward. Hug. Kiss. Have passionate make-up sex. Whatever the case, make sure you reestablish your bond. Remember why you fell in love in the first place. Focus on the good. until the next lover’s quarrel.