1. Release stress in a healthy way.
There will be times when you just want to throw a temper-tantrum so you can release the frustrations you have in the relationship. Or, you can do something productive. My special cathartic release is running. I don’t know where I will be running to, I don’t know if I’ll suddenly run out of breath and start walking, I don’t know when I’ll stop… all I know is I need to put on my shoes and run.
Find something that works for you, but just make sure it releases tension and energy: more often than not, cardio usually works.
2. Understand their side of the story: pause & listen.
When you’re in the heat of the moment, screaming “PAUSE” should be a universal word between you two to stop everything.
“Pause” means don’t talk to me until we cool down. “Pause” means turn away until we’re both clear headed. It means be patient and wait until you both can speak again. Most importantly, “pause” means to stop before someone gets really hurt by the angry words about to spring out into motion.
We can be so wrapped up with our side of the story that we can completely block out the other person’s voice. Nothing gets resolved this way. It’s really hard to grasp your faults and hear his/her point of view without retorting. Once both of you have calmed down, you can come back and start listening to each other, respectfully.
3. Argue face to face
Don’t argue via text. How your partner interprets your tone in text form could be distorted and misconstrued in so many different ways, especially when you’re fighting. You could be apologizing and your partner could be thinking that you’re being a facetious, stubborn little idiot.
There will be moments where you’re about to send a long text explaining yourself, when you realize that your partner has already sent ten more texts on a new subject. Or, worse they haven’t replied back to your text messages from 8 hours ago. Basically, texting makes it hard to keep track of where you are in the fight. Put your phone on silent and talk it out face to face.
As much as the presence of their face annoys the hell out of you, you need to force yourself to have some courage. I’m talking face-to-face in real life, not Skype. It’s more productive (once calm) because the lines of communication are less blocked and twisted: clarity is more likely to happen face-to-face than not.
If you can’t do it in person, you just need to wait.
4. Don’t bring any unwarranted person into the fight.
In my early days of single life, I was always the third wheel of a couple who hated each other. They would fight in the car, at the movie theater, at Disneyland, etc. They just didn’t care who or what was around. The fact that they fought in public didn’t really peeve me; what bother me was they would always ask me for my opinion.
“Jonathan, so you heard her story, what do you think?”
“Jonathan, don’t listen to HIM, my side makes perfect sense.”
When they broke up, I got a text from one of them saying “I KNEW YOU WERE ALWAYS ON THEIR SIDE!” Jesus, why couldn’t they leave me out of it? Leave others out of your fights. Including others is not healthy, it can ruin friendships, and ultimately, it undermines and can embarrass your partner.
5. Understand the bigger picture
Understand that there are no winners or losers in a fight. Unless, of course, one of the parties is cheating, lying, or stealing. But seriously, I feel like 80% of fights are really pointless. Knowing when to suck it up on your end is sometimes the best way to avoid a nasty fight altogether. And, when I say “suck it up,” I don’t mean ignore the problem. I’m saying there is a no need to fight about something that has an easy solution.
Relationships are not always full of glee and happiness; there will be disagreements. Yes, I use the word disagreement because I personally think that fighting isn’t healthy. Rather, arguing is the better path. Fighting sounds dirty and bloody, while arguing elicits a diatribe of two people trying to find compromise to a problem. If over time the problem(s) cannot be fixed and there is no compromise whatsoever, then different paths may be needed: therapy, breakup, and/or… lots of vodka.