You may be the most peace-loving person around…but you’re still a fighter. Your continued fight may actually be the reason why the connection in your love relationship or marriage is severely strained or maybe even broken.
When you think about “fighting,” you probably imagine hostile silences, loud arguments and shouting or even physical hits and slaps. Because you care about your partner, you don’t usually act in these ways. Even if you sometimes raise your voice and lose your cool, you try not to make it a habit to fight with your partner like this.
It’s important to recognize it when your anger or other intense feelings take over. Make a conscious effort to calm down because you won’t be able to communicate effectively if you’re not calm and clear.
But, it’s essential for you to also be on the lookout for the other ways you might be putting up a fight. These habits cause harm to your relationship (and to you too) if you allow them to persist.
You put up a fight when you….
- Insist that you’re right (and your partner is wrong).
- Strive to prove your worth and value:“I’ll show him!”
- Push or manipulate to get your way.
- Stubbornly cling to a particular way of living no matter what.
None of these actions is necessarily bad. What matters most is how often you fight and what you do once you realize what you’re doing.
For example, Jessica and Mark have waged a hidden war against one another for the past month. Their older son wants to transfer to a different high school because he feels bullied at his current school. Jessica and Mark don’t agree about what to do. They have the very same debate night after night about whether or not to let their son transfer. Neither of them is budging and the deadline for enrollment in a new school is approaching quickly.
In this situation, it’s understandable that Jessica and Mark are each “fighting” for what they believe is best for their son. The fact that they are each speaking up about what they believe isn’t the problem…the problem is their motivations and how they’re going about it.
When Jessica is honest with herself, she can admit that underlying her “fight” is a desire prove to Mark that she’s more in tune with their son and his needs. Mark’s “fight” is driven by his attachment to their son sticking with his current high school because it’s ranked highest in academics in their city. Mark is afraid that if his son goes to a “lesser” high school, he won’t get into a good college.
Neither Jessica nor Mark is wrong for being motivated as they are, but they can’t truly support their son and guide him wisely if they don’t change their approaches.
Jessica, Mark and possibly you too keep standing in the way of not just problem-solving, but a strong and healthy relationship connection when the fight dominates. You continue to fight because it seems like what you“should” do. You may even believe it shows how“strong” and “dedicated” you are.
Unfortunately, all of this fighting makes you…
- closed off
- far from where you want to be
When you’re caught up in a battle– whether it’s big and loud or quiet and hidden– the sooner you give up the fight, the sooner you’ll get back to trust, closeness and genuine happiness in your relationship.
When you realize you are fighting your partner, stop and ask yourself curiosity questions like, “What is at the heart of this for me?” or “What am I most afraid will happen?”
Questions like these can help you re-frame the whole situation, including your staunch reasons for having it “your way.”
What “giving up the fight” can mean for you….
Just to be clear, giving up the fight doesn’t mean you bite back your true feelings or that you roll over and do whatever your partner wants.
You can honor your priorities and values as you also keep an open mind. An internal shift happens and discovering what the best possible solution could be becomes the new driver (instead of proving something or being right).
Giving up the fight starts when you accept that “your way” isn’t the only way and that your partner may have a valid point. From there, you can begin to speak honestly and listen with openness. A solution can emerge (instead of being forced) which usually brings you and your partner closer than before.