How To Fight Like A Couple That's Built To Last
Fighting with your partner is inevitable. It happens to every couple at some point. But there is a major difference between fights that are healthy and those that can lead to breakups. If you want to fight like a couple that's built to last, experts say there are a few important phrases you should keep in mind.
"There are several hallmarks of 'good' fighting," psychologist and dating coach, Christine Carpenter, PsyD, tells Bustle. "Good fighting is a way couples disagree, even in a heated way, without corroding the love in the relationship overall."
Couples who are built to last have learned some very important conflict resolution skills. They know how to fight productively and they don't keep bringing up the same issues over and over again. These couples take responsibility for their actions, they stay away from name calling or hurtful comments, and they're able to come to the "discussion" in a grounded way.
"Of course, we all are vulnerable to acting impulsively out of intense emotion," she says. "In the heat of a moment, we may not have the presence of mind to think through how to express our reaction."
So what you say really matters. If you want to fight like a couple that's built to last, here are some things you should always say, according to experts.
1. "Can We Talk In A Bit?"
If you know a conversation is going to lead to a fight, find a time to have that conversation. "Rather than diving right into the issue, state the wish for time to talk about it at some point in the near future so your partner won't feel blindsided by the conversation," Carpenter says. That way, you're both prepared and it will hopefully be much more of a conversation than a fight.
2. "I Need To Get This Out So We Can Fix This And Move Forward"
When you've set aside time to have that conversation, Carpenter suggests starting positively. "Inform your partner that you have something difficult to discuss but that you are bringing it up so that you can resolve the issue and return to a feeling of closeness and connection in the relationship," she says. In other words, don't go into attack mode no matter how angry you are.
3. "I Feel ... "
If you want to have fights that are healthy, be sure to use feeling statements. "Owning something as your experience will cut down on the inevitable defensiveness that your partner will feel if you begin by pointing out their perceived transgression," Carpenter says. Feeling statements are things like "I feel angry" or "I feel sad." It's not a comment on your partner's behavior (i.e. "I feel that you ignored me yesterday"), but it's about you being vulnerable and opening up about your true feelings.
4. "I Understand"
If you're in a relationship that's built to last, you listen to each other. You don't interrupt your partner when they're sharing their side of the story. "During fights, couples that last work to understand each other," Katie Ziskind, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. Even if you don't see eye-to-eye on things, don't say anything to invalidate your partner's feelings or experiences.
5. "I Need To Take A Quick Time Out"
"Couples that last may need time to process the fight or their partner's actions," Leikam says. They're not afraid to call a "time out" if things get too heated because they're mindful to not say things they'll regret later.
6. "I'm Sorry"
If you say something that crosses the line, apologize. If you're in the wrong, be the first one to say, "I'm sorry." There are some basic "rules" to follow when it comes to fighting and this is one of the most important. As challenging as it can be for some to suck up their pride and apologize, it can really make a difference. If you make it a point to say sorry when you're wrong, Julia McCurley, Professional Matchmaker and founder of Something More, tells Bustle, "You will notice a significant and positive change in the way you fight with each other."
7. "I Love You"
When all things are said and done, couples who are built to last make sure to leave things on a positive note. As McCurley says, they affirm that they care about the other person, even if they don't always agree.
Fighting in your relationship is inevitable. But if you make it a point to say these things during fights, your relationship may come out a lot stronger.