How Fighting Can Actually Both Ruin And Stabilize Your Relationship
Love is passion. It devours you and dazzles you. It slays your ability to think rationally.
Love is an extreme and hectic experience.
It's wretched and satisfying. It's the only way to be. Perfection is dull. Healthy is debatable. Dysfunctional is sexy.
Give me an exciting roller coaster ride over a still fishing trip any day. Spike my relationship with a tweak of danger.
Conflicting love stories surround us. There are those broken twosomes we can't help but root for.
From the clichéd couple that despises each other then falls in love to the volatile duo with their epic rows and even greater sex life, the message is evident: fighting is caring. Fighting means to love too much.
Though it's portrayed wonderfully in TV and movies, it isn't always so fantastic in real life.
The show typically ends a bit after the first "let's get back together kiss," following with seasons of arguing.
You never grasp how (and if) they finally make it work. Why was this final reconciliation unlike all others before it? Can one last makeup erase all previous fights?
According to psychologist John Gottman from the Gottman Institute, no.
One moment of redemption in a plethora of fights is not enough to make a relationship work. Yet, that doesn't imply your relationship is doomed.
It seems that how much you clash doesn't set whether your romance will crash. What matters is an overall balance of positive and negative exchanges.
So, if I had a dire day and I rant with my boyfriend (again) over him smoking in my room (again), I have to later apologize (so does he), remembering to compliment him (I still love you!) and adding some bliss to the mix.
But, a 50-50 equilibrium is not sufficient; you need a 5-to-1 ratio.
“As long as there is five times as much positive feeling and interaction […] as there is negative, the marriage was likely to be stable over time. In contrast, those couples who were heading for divorce were doing far too little on the positive side to compensate for the growing negativity between them,” says Gottman.
Conflict alone is not deemed a harmful thing. It's an inevitable part of any relation and indispensable in solving disputes and growing stronger.
To ignore unresolved conflicts doesn't make them vanish. Then again, conflicts don't always lead to fighting, but blowing up and regretting it happens to the best of us.
Even though couples who “never fight” are revered as the ideal relationships, that's not essentially true. Not all relations are alike, and not all handle issues similarly.
Some pairs are effortlessly compromising and reassuring, others would rather avoid conflict, and some crave it whenever they can. They can all be utterly successful.
The notion every person can soothe and be rational is far-fetched. Not all of us are logical and composed, but that doesn't mean we'll be deprived of happy endings.
“There are couples whose fights are as deafening as thunder yet who have long-lasting, happy relationships,” affirms Gottman.
Clearly, a zero-fighting policy with plenty of love can never fail. Ultimately, being yelled at is not fun.
Negative incidents scar you deeply, and they always do more harm than healing.
Thus, whenever you fall into it, you're potentially endangering your relationship. Nevertheless, you're equally able to improve the circumstances by tilting your love balance back to positive.
So, you can have your volatile, breathtaking, passionate affair without going far-off, over the hill, down the abyss, and crashing on the cold, harsh ground.
If you don't crack it, you don't have to mend it. But if you do fight, you can repair. Simply enjoy yourselves five times more than you argue.
Breakups start when disproportion occurs. Excessive bickering without the positivity to counterbalance crumbles the relationship from within.
The hostilities take over and relentlessly grow, as a black hole stuck between the duo, pulling all the love until nothing remains to restore.
If fighting is your style, do it responsibly. Be alert for obstinate paths for which no amount of lovemaking can waver:
Complain, don't criticize.
To say “you're selfish” differs from saying “what you did was selfish.” Instead of aiming at actions, attack the personality.
It signals you're losing hope and shifting how you see them. Complaining is productive; criticizing is degrading.
As criticism escalates, you stop admiring one another; you can't even remember why you fell in love.
You stop working as a team and start dirtily battling. You neglect the objective and use your words to deliberately hurt the other.
Keep an open mind.
Prior to fighting, repeat this mantra to yourself: “I love him or her, I want to be with him or her.” Then, listen to the complaints. Everything has at least two sides.
Being defensive merely escalates the conflict; it doesn't resolve it. Striving to understand the other becomes pointless.
Don't shut down.
After a bit, you will simply get too tired to respond. Silence can be powerful and hurtful.
When you stonewall, you're not only quiet, but you're informing the other that it's not worth it anymore. You no longer care enough to try.
Ultimately, series and movies impose the fantasy that struggling is crucial to a thriving relation and that, in the end, love conquers all. However, it's challenging to accomplish this in an unscripted life.
Fighting can be your spice, provided that you mind your words, maintain your focus and remember to always tilt the scale back to positive.