I’ve lived in LA my whole life and haven’t experienced this until now. Across the street, I hear my neighbors arguing. Loudly. This was a BAD fight. The guy is screaming, “STAY OUT OF MY AFFAIRS. Oh, you’re gonna go to your mother and now I’m the bad guy!” I was getting concerned and then suddenly it stopped, and I heard applause and laughing. And I realized, Oh my God, they were just rehearsing a scene. That is so effing LA and so effing sitcom, I can’t even believe it just happened. But it did.
And it made me think about couples fighting, and how they fight. You know how people say you have to “fight fair”? What does that really mean? Based on this poorly written Revenge-esque fake fight, I’ve come up with a guide on how to fight fair, for those times when it’s for real.
DON’T bring up stuff that you agreed you resolved. This is the most annoying thing, ever. If you already had a huge argument about who takes out the trash or what happened at that party 6 years ago and you resolved it then, then you need to leave it in the past. Bringing it up is the dirtiest way to fight, because all it does is add more problems, and in any fight, your goal is to eliminate problems and substitute them with solutions.
DON’T bring up anything unrelated. Similar to the first point, but slightly different in that if your fight is about one thing, don’t try to get out of it by bringing up something totally unrelated just to take the pressure off of you. You’re in this together.
DON’T take it to your parents. Some of us are really close with our parents and we tell them everything, but when we fight with our partner and we tell our parents, we’re telling our parents the worst parts about our relationships. Rarely do people ever follow up with complaints about a spouse with the resolution and with our own contributions to the fight — it’s always what they did wrong, and once we resolve it, we forget to let poor mom know WTF happened. And so after you make up, what are your parents going to think about that person? They only have your side, and your side was told from a frustrated and angry place. Keep it with your friends and your therapist. To use my neighbor’s clichéd dialog, don’t go to your mom and make him the bad guy.
DO let the other person know where you’re coming from. You want your partner to know why exactly you’re angry, so don’t be coy about it. Let them know that you’re coming from a place of insecurity or whatever it is so that they know where to proceed. This is probably where the phrase “meet me halfway” comes from. Let them meet you halfway.
DO let the other person know that even though you’re arguing, you still love and care about them. Assuming this isn’t the “break up” argument, of course. And maybe that sounds silly, but sometimes when you’re arguing, you feel like it’s hopeless and that you’ve lost that other person forever.
DO listen. ACTUALLY listen to what they’re saying. Don’t just nod your head until they’re done talking and it’s your turn. You’d be surprised what you’d hear if you just really listen.
DON’T interrupt. Interrupting makes arguments 10x longer than they need to be.
DO come to some sort of resolution. Maybe you agree to put the fight on hold until tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep (or “pause” à la Lily and Marshall on How I Met Your Mother.) Or maybe you agree to resolve it before you sleep. Maybe you agree to come to a resolution that one person will do x and another person will do y in the future. Whatever the agreement is, you need to reach one in some form.
Fighting is totally normal, and some will say it’s even healthy. I think it is to a certain degree as long as you’re fighting fair. What are some of your tips for fighting fair?
Photo: Nina Leen via LIFE Photo Archives for Google.
Almie Rose is a writer from Los Angeles. She has a blog, Apocalypstick. In addition to Dating & Hookup she also writes for Hello Giggles, The Frisky, Thought Catalog, and Genlux Magazine. Her book, I Forgot To Be Famous, is out now. You can follow her on twitter @apocalypstick. Her favorite pastime is eating and drinking and sleeping and then eating again.
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