Do you and your partner fight right?
That's the key to surviving disputes in any relationship.
Though many couples claim never to fight, it's a well-known fact among relationship
experts that without conflict there is no passion.
And let's be real — how can you possibly live day in and day
out with somebody and never disagree on anything?! When people tell me that
they never fight with their partners, all I can think is that one of them is
surely passive-aggressive in nature, and both are suffering.
Bonnie Eaker Weil, a relationship therapist in New York City, notes that
in relationships where partners are "too polite" to fight, the
incidents of adultery are most common. Not surprising since without argument
and discussion, problems cannot be resolved. And without resolution, anger and
resentment build — and that's no way to live or love.
Weil has some time-tested guidelines that clearly work since
she claims her success rate with counseling couples is 98 per cent. See if you
can apply any of these to your own relationship:
>> When you and your partner find time to sit down and
discuss the issues at hand, try not to use criticism and sarcasm. This
immediately puts the other person on the defensive and steers the conversation
in a new direction, away from the initial problem.
>> Let each other have the chance to say what he/she
feels without interrupting. But keep the tirade to a 10-minute time period. If
it's longer than that your partner will tune out.
>> Put on what Weil refers to as your 'emotional
bulletproof vest' while listening to your partner. Let what he/she says bounce
off you instead of reacting. Make mental notes for your turn.
>> One of my favourite ideas of Weil's, one that I've
never heard before, is to get together a day or so after the initial
discussion, and reflect on what was said. Here's an example: He feels that
she's too controlling when it comes to making any social plans for them as a
couple. She feels he never helps out around the house. After some thought, he
expresses that he can see where she's coming from and makes himself a schedule
of household chores because doing them doesn't come naturally. So he gives
himself a reminder to take out the garbage every Monday after work, and to
vacuum before he goes running Saturday mornings. She sees his point about their
social calendar, so makes an effort to pass on any invitations to him, so he
can choose whether or not they attend.
>> To paraphrase Dr. Phil: "Do you want to win,
or do you want to be happy?" Arguing with your partner isn't a competition
— it's a signpost on the road to happiness.
>> Kiss and make up — literally. Physical contact is
important to let go of any residual anger and reconnect as a loving couple.
Lisi Tesher is a much travelled freelance writer who has
studied art history, photography, languages and pop culture. She is also a
constant and fascinated student of relationships, maintaining contact with a