>”Healthy” fighting?!

Question via email:
“What is “healthy” fighting? Is it about the pre-approach/pre-conflict resolution, the conflict itself (cusses and all), or the make up? Can you set new patterns, or does the pattern, once set, repeat itself to infinity?”

A: I’m so glad you asked- Healthy couples do argue; when they deny it, I worry about what’s not being said! In my experience, a healthy argument is essentially one in which both partners get to express their viewpoint and feel valued as people; although you may not agree with your partner, each of you listen as you would want to be heard.

In a healthy argument, both partners work to keep it from spinning out of control, by apologizing when you’ve gone too far, and/or acknowledging when you need to take a break. It’s important to return after a specified amount of time, and use the time off to cool down, NOT to ‘build your case’.

A healthy argument has a resolution, meaning that when it’s over, it’s over. While there are some valid reasons to revisit old stuff, it’s not fair to bring it up again solely as ammunition for a later argument – you know what I mean.

While sometimes even healthy arguments include raised voices or uncomfortable feelings, they do NOT contain name-calling, swearing, threatening, or character assassinating, to name some big ones.

The more you insist on being ‘right’, the more you alienate your partner. The next time you feel the fight coming on in response to your partner’s latest assinine comment, try to say instead, “Hm, interesting point. What makes you say that?” Then really listen to their response. Pay attention to your own feelings, and share them with each other. Come from a place of curiosity – the more you practice, the more it becomes your norm – remember, “progress, not perfection.”

It’s normal to struggle with this stuff – if it’s too hard on your own, it can be helpful to seek a competent therapist who can help you sort out your feelings. We’re here to help!


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