Whether you're both willing to admit it or not, pretty much every couple fights from time to time. This doesn't mean you two aren't a strong match. From experiencing your first major argument, to letting little things build up over time, there are some situations that just feel unavoidable when you're spending a lot of time with the same person. Truthfully, though, it is possible to avoid fights with your partner. How? The easy answer is that communication is key. If that isn't a satisfactory response, consider the importance of picking your battles. Some spats might truly be inevitable, but there are certain conflicts that you should try your hardest to avoid in any romantic relationship.
I spoke to Sarah Watson, licensed professional counselor and certified sex therapist, who filled me in on the top three fights to avoid with your partner. No matter what stage you are at in your relationship, you and your significant other should actively work to steer clear of these fights. And if they do occur, there are steps both of you can take to resolve the issue and prevent it from happening again. Consider the following expert tips, and put them into practice. Your relationship is sure to benefit.
1. Expecting your partner to read your mind.
It's easy to assume that your significant other knows when you're upset, and also understands what is bothering you. "Everyone has needs and we hope and expect our partner to meet them all. This is highly unrealistic," says Watson. Try to remember that no one can read minds. "Talk about your needs and desires honestly and openly. They might not know what you need, and that's OK. Some people need to be told. Embrace that."
Communicating about what you want and need from the relationship can help prevent unnecessary arguments down the road.
2. Allowing small frustrations to build up.
Everyone's been there: you're bickering with your partner about who gets to pick the movie, and suddenly you bring up a petty comment they made three weeks ago. "Fights usually start about something little then turn into everything but the kitchen sink, but really it's about unmet needs," says Watson. "An example would be one partner needing physical touch and not getting it in a way that is meaningful."
Again, talking things through before they become a problem is the best and easiest solution. "Learn to talk about the hard things, whatever that is for you. Know your own triggers and share that with your partner," says Watson. If you are self-aware as well as attentive to your partner's triggers, you're less likely to let silly things get in the way of your relationship and your happiness. For example, if you cringe every time your significant other goes in for PDA — and you're not a fan of that — you should ask to keep your intimate moments private, rather than stewing in silence.
3. Not listening to your partner's needs.
Sometimes you can't avoid arguments, but Watson says that you can learn to fight fairly and be an active listener. "Remember why you are with this person and learn to listen," she says. Think about what you expect from your partner, and try to do that for them as well. Relationships are a two-way street, after all. The more mature you are, the easier it will be for your significant other to take your relationship seriously.
In addition to being a good listener, Watson advises learning how to be an excellent communicator. "If you are feeling something, share that with your partner in a calm way if possible. If you can't be calm, take a time out and come back to the conversation." If you are too upset to acknowledge your partner's view, then you may need to take a step back until you're ready to hear their side of the argument.
Practice makes perfect, so remember that good communication may not come right away. "If you try your best, learn to listen, communicate in a meaningful way and things still are difficult, seek out a third party to help you navigate what is happening in your relationship," says Watson. There's no shame in needing a little extra help.
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