No one wants to fight (or at least no one you probably want to be in a relationship with), but fights happen, and having them is a healthy part of any relationship.
While fighting all the time isn’t a good thing, neither is not fighting at all. When you have healthy constructive fights with your partner about important issues that impact your relationship it can often even bring you closer together rather than further apart.
So, what is a “healthy” fight? Time recently spoke to psychologists to find out. One interesting suggestion those physiologists made: Schedule your conflicts.
We don't like to admit it, but a marriage (or any long, cohabiting relationship) looks less like an early romance and more like a business partnership. As organisational psychologist Adam Grant and his wife Allison Sweet Grant explain in Redbook, married life involves a lot of compromise and negotiation. They offer four negotiation techniques for avoiding unhappy compromises.
This was a suggestion that I thought was odd, but after thinking about it for a bit is something I can get behind. Rather than have a fight at the moment when tensions are high, when a fight starts instead schedule a time for you to finish it.
You aren’t going to put a fight off until next Tuesday, but giving something a few hours allows everyone to think through their feelings and why they’re mad, and then return to the conversation with those thoughts well thought out.
With this, you hopefully avoid heat-of-the-moment hurtful statements and instead are able to get to the root of the issue and come up with a respectful resolution for both parties.
Think About the Reason For Your Fight
Oftentimes we end up having the exact same fight over and over again. While the topic of the fight might theoretically change, if you take a look at the root of your fight you’ll find a reoccurring them.
The example Time gives here is of a couple that has a “5:30PM fight” during the week because one partner wants to talk about their day and the other wants to decompress from a difficult day at work. Person number one feels ignored and underappreciated when number two avoids the conversation, but in fact, both people are causing the issue.
Rather than having a daily fight or the same fight over and over again, take look at what’s ultimately causing an issue and then work on creating a compromise that keeps everyone happy. For instance, when that same old fight starts up again, maybe everyone can walk away for a few minutes and then regroup.
And when you have that fight, be sure to listen to what your partner has to say, ask questions, and when you’re in the wrong, learn the right way to apologise. Just like we all have our own love languages, we all have our own apology languages as well.