How to Stop Blowout Fights Before They Happen
Anything Can Be a Fight
For some reason, couples can fight over anything. I mean anything. My wife and I have had a recurring fight over my habit of leaving out the shaving cream in the morning. I will almost always leave my shaving cream on the counter, instead of in the drawer where it belongs. Why? I don't know. I just... Don't know...
This has lead to fight after fight between my wife and I. I would insist that it was no big deal, and she would insist that it was a big deal to her; it just bothered her and she felt disrespected due to the fact that I would continuously do something I had promised not to.
So, as I said, couples can fight over just about anything. But don't worry! There are ways to end the spats that sometimes turn into angry shouting matches.
Why Do We Fight?
We have established now, that everything and anything can be cause for a fight (though I'm sure if you are searching the web for articles on why we fight or how to stop fights, you are well aware of this fact).
It is my belief that fights are almost always due to the fact that we are not really listening to each other. Us people are stubborn and when we are in an argument that is beginning to get heated, we tend to put up a protective wall; the more heated the argument, the thicker and taller and meaner the wall becomes until the fight just has no where left to go. At this point we see one participant or the other storm away, saying "FINE!", or "WHATEVER!", and the fight ends with no resolution.
Throughout the whole debacle, no listening took place. Both parties may have shared their frustrations,one or both participants may even think they were listening, but no effort was made to sit down and listen to what was really bugging their significant other. This means there has been no growth, no learning, and no understanding gained.
THIS WILL HURT YOUR RELATIONSHIP!
Fighting in this manner will cause resentment, a calloused heart, and poor behavior during future arguments.
A Little Something Called 'Reflective Listening'
Now, let's say you can tell the fight is beginning to get a little heated and you feel the temptation to start going back and forth. You are feeling disrespected, or feeling angry at your significant other. How can you diffuse this bomb before it explodes into a yelling, name calling, divorce threatening mess?
You can listen to what each other have to say.
It may sound easy, but it will take practice and effort! Take turns telling one another what you are hearing each other saying. Say something like "Honey, what I'm hearing is that you are mad about -blank-, you are feeling like I am treating you -blank-, and you are frustrated that I am not listening to you." at which point they will either tell you "Wow! That's 100% correct!" or (more likely) they will tell you that you we correct about -blank-, and -blank-, but wrong about -blank- and missed 3 other points. After those points are out there and you have discussed them a bit, your partner will repeat the process for you.
It is important to be patient during the reflective listening process, and to avoid interrupting. Once you have both cordially discussed the points and feelings of both parties, there may be no fight left and you may be amazed at how simple it really can be to listen!
This is not always the case though. As mentioned before, this exercise takes practice and will feel clunky and awkward at first.
Time Out! This Isn't Working!
When my wife and I began to practice reflective listening, we were at our wits end. We are both very hard headed and did not really want to hear each other out. We had to take some 'adult time out' with almost every fight.
If you forget to practice your reflective listening, your reflective listening isn't going as planned, or the fight happens faster than you can catch to practice your exercises, call a time out! An adult time out is when you call a time out either using a code word or saying time out or however you feel comfortable pausing. During this time, you do not speak to on another, you do not contest the time out, you do not stew over your anger or frustration; you regroup, calm down, and think about what you could do to better the course of the argument. Think of how you may be acting inappropriately, and ho you can better yourself during the argument or reflective listening process.
Just like when you call a time out in sports, it will do you no good to discuss with your team how the other team could cooperate better to lead to a victory, you need humble yourself (sorry guys) and consider how you may be contributing negatively to the fight.
When you reconvene with one another, explain what you have come up with during your time out; then continue the reflective listening. If you need to take 20 time outs before the fight it solved, so be it! Do not drop the argument, because it will only come back later, take care of the disagreement as soon as possible!
In conclusion: stick with the program. It take work to to keep relationships healthy. Don't stop listening to each other, treat each other with compassion, and don't leave your arguments unsettled.
Choose to love your significant other every day, and remember to do your best to serve one another. It is always worth it!
How often do you fight with your significant other?
© 2017 Jacob Wittrock