My default setting when I’m angry is to grow cold, withdrawn and let my hubby find out why I’m like that, without me, having to tell him. Yes, I know, it’s not cool and it is absolutely counterproductive in marriage. Again, I know, but like I said, it’s my default setting, or rather, used to be my default setting.
Imagine, if you were my husband, you would surely feel frustrated and unsure of what to do next. Those are the feelings which can lead to anger on his own part. I have had years to work on it, and I’m still working on it, because I still withdraw rather than talk.
That’s a major weakness for me. So, next time you see me going on about communicating while angry. Ask me, “Babe, how far have you gone with your own?”
Interestingly, it is not only being close-mouthed that’s a huge mistake while fighting with your partner. There are lots of them, but I will bring just six of them here today. When you see yourself being described, or your own weakness, kindly accept it and work in it to make you a better person.
1. Stay and fight or the Walk away fighting pattern:
My husband and I needed to do a bit of counselling a while back, and after we both stated our concerns, our counsellor, who is a pastor, told us the story of how she and her husband had different fighting styles.
She wants to talk and end everything right there and then, while her husband wants to go for a walk, and come back to the subject matter later.
The reality is, most couples are not going to be inclined towards both sitting down and talking it through at the same time. Some people need to stand and fight, but others need time to cool down and figure out how they think and feel.
If you’re of the “stand and fight” variety, while your partner is a “take time out,” then you can’t force them to stand and fight. Otherwise, instead of hearing their truth, you’re going to push them to make on-the-spot judgement, and say things they might not even really mean.
That will only make things worse.
Even if you are of the “take your time” type, you can’t take the whole galaxy or the whole year. Sooner rather than later, you need to face what’s happening and have that conversation with your partner about the problem at hand.
Don’t wallow in your anger. Don’t avoid the conflict either, grown-ups don’t. And while you’re thinking things over, remember your aim is to resolve, not win.
2. Too little or too much Compromise:
This can work both ways. Either you are giving in too much or too often, or you have a serious problem with compromising. I used to like getting my own way a lot and that was because I practically grew up like that; that was recipe for disaster in my relationship. My sulks after I did not get my way were not appreciated at all.
But then, the consequences of my decisions and actions are not just on me, they affect other people too, hence, I had to learn how to compromise, to change my mind, to make flexible plans, to go with the flow, and accept that sometimes, my plan will be thrown out all together, for a better one.
On the other hand, you don’t have to over-compromise, if there is such a word like that. If you are the only one making compromises in your relationship, it’s tough and that leads to a build up of resentment.
3. Being Moody and distant:
It’s what people do when they’re not ready, able, or willing to express what they’re feeling in a direct way. It’s showing anger by throwing things around. It’s showing sadness by crying, but saying “nothing” when your partner asks you what’s wrong. It’s acting like you hate your partner, when they have no clue what they did wrong.
Sometimes we don’t realize we’re doing it, but sometimes we do. Make that, all the time for me. But I’m learning and now, rather than just go mute, I say how I feel, and say I’m not ready to talk about it.
4. Having elephant memory:
Ah!!! I had to quickly unlearn this one. This was one thing that my husband hated with passion. Do anything but never start with, “That’s how you always do” or “Three years ago, you placed the cup on the table, when I had put it in the freezer.” He can go into his own sulky mood, because of that.
When you’re mad at your partner for not doing something you told him/her to do, does the argument devolve into that one time, three years ago, when they flirted with another girl right in front of you?
Biko, take a breather. Reorganize your thought pattern. It’s hard to do in the moment, but you can. Don’t dig up the past just for digging sake. Aside from bringing up old feelings that add fuel to the fire, your partner will feel like you’re blaming them too much, and that you can’t let go of issues that were supposed to have been solved over time.
This is perhaps the easiest thing to do, in the heat of anger. It’s a lot easier to say, “I will never disrespect my partner,” but when you’re in the thick of an argument, that affirmation can fly out the window and you turn into that person who calls their partner names, or says really hurtful things.
Your partner deserves respect, no matter what you’re arguing about. If you can’t give that respect, you need to take some time and come back when you can. Anger isn’t an excuse for emotional or verbal abuse.
6. Involve social media:
One phrase: Don’t do it! The pepper and spice that social media adds to a situation never makes it better. It actually makes it longer to forget. For your sake and your relationship, don’t even think social media when you are angry and having a tiff with your partner.
Ladies and gentlemen, there’s so much to learn about fighting right in our relationship; fighting to build, rather than fighting to destroy. Now, you know some of the ways you and I have been fighting wrong.
It’s time to change the game!
Kristine is a member of The Lovelint team. She is a down to earth person, who says it as it is. Having given relationship advice for years in a national daily, she has found out that fear is one of the main reasons holding people back from enjoying a healthy, happy relationship. She is married with kids and is willing to listen to you and help as much as you let her to.