When one really think about it, most arguments in a relationship are not over major issues. The issues that cause couples to raise their voice at each other are quite minor and can even be dismissed as merely irritating to outsiders but can quickly get out of hand.
Couples don’t fight, when they are talking finances or the new location, they would like to live in, and they don’t fight when they are discussing the future of their family, no, each partner weigh in with rational thinking. They bring points and reasons why they think, they should be doing this project and not that project. They do not fight at those times but picture this scenario,
Couple on the couch watching TV together after the day’s work.
Husband channel surfing and as soon as his wife reaches the channel she likes, she says, “Stop, let’s watch this” but husband wants to continue surfing to see what else is being shown.
Madam gets angry and starts talking, “So, because, you have the remote, you can change it anyhow you want. I say, leave it there.”
Husband gets angry and throws the remote down, headed for the bedroom to watch the screen there. The purpose of watching TV together forfeited.
Thinking that would solve the problem, no, his wife was now angry too. She stalked after him into the bedroom and asked him why he threw the remote at her and more importantly, walked out on her. That was the start of a huge fight, which ended three days later, when the anger had both left them.
Another experience that a community member shared was how he actually built a mountain out of a request of his wife, as they drove home after a church service.
Their kids were in the car when this matter happened and it took a lot of constraint on the part of both parties, not to fight in front of the children but they surely made their displeasure known in the looks and the quiet conversation that went on between them.
What was the matter all about? Whether to take the toll gate or take the back routes, because, Madam wanted to check on an ailing friend of hers, who lived on the back route. Her husband wanted to head home straight; he was tired and hungry and did not want to waste any time visiting someone.
She begged him, although he agreed, he grumbled all the way there and back home, complaining about how his wife was not always considerate, wanting to have her own way all the time and the back and forth started. What had started out as a simple request made by his wife had turned into an argument over who got their way most of the time.
While, it brings discomfort, fighting is not all together bad in a relationship. Sometimes, it can be a sign of a healthy relationship or send the signal that something in the relationship needs to be fixed. For both scenarios painted above, there are underlying issues that was brought to fore; somebody wanted to have his or her way.
However, there is a technique to fighting- the aftermath. What happens after the fights takes place; are there apologies; make up sex or just glossing over of the whole fight? What happens afterwards matter a lot. For a strong relationship, there is need to tender sincere apologies and make up for the hurt. This way, the relationship is repaired and you can move on to greater heights. But if there were no apologies of any kind, this leads to a festering wound, it can only get worse. Repairing a relationship after every hurt is important to a stronger relationship.
And before you think that apologizing is the cure-all for relationship fights, it can only be so, when it comes at the appropriate time. Such as a time, as when you have been able to reflect on the situation, you have understood the hurt; you caused the other person, and have learnt from the situation, that is when an apology would indeed be sincere. Not, those “I’m sorry” said to get out of a bad situation, but one that comes from having thought things through, knowing and accepting that you have hurt the other person. That is the type of “I’m sorry” that really counts.
So, how does a couple move from the part where they fought to when a sincere apology is issued? Here are the steps:
Start with how you feel
The first step in repairing a relationship after a fight is to talk about the hurt, how each partner felt at that point in time, what emotions ran through their mind, what words came to them. Mind you, this is not after the fight, but right in the middle of the fight, what were the dominant feelings. This is not about who is right or not, but about clearing the air and repairing the relationship. Saying what each person feels, the other party then knows what they are dealing with.
Of course, while they share their feelings, they also explain why the felt that way. If it is a case of something that always happened and they are fed up with. Or it is new occurrence that should not be repeated. This is the perfect opportunity to do the show and tell.
Now the other person has told you how they felt and even showed it. It is time to walk in their shoes. After each person has had their say and explained why they felt the way they did. It is now time, for each partner to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and walk in it. That is empathy.
It is only when this is done that the other person can fully understand why the other person was so hurt. Again, repairing relationship is not about apportioning blame but about fixing the relationship for the good of both partners.
After full understanding, then, it is important for each person to acknowledge what happened during the conflict and to take responsibility for something that they contributed to it.
Then the apology can come and the other partner will gladly accept it because they know, it is coming from a good place. Apology will work because the other person now feels that their feelings and their perspective on what happened have been acknowledged. Then, when that other partner also apologizes because they too feel that their feelings and point of view have been validated, it is much easier for them both to accept the apology that allows forgiveness. That allows resolution, and then they can move on.
If you have to fight, do so but definitely keep moving on for a stronger relationship!
Kristine is a member of the 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.