My boyfriend and I have been together for 2 years, and I love him dearly. He is the brightest treasure in my life, a reason I get excited to wake up, the peanut butter to my jelly.
And yet, we fight… plenty. I mean, sometimes I get really, really mad at this man I love so tremendously. I have seen these fights become exhausting, walls are built, and grudges are kept.
I knew there has to be a better way to fight with my man.
Having already gone through a divorce, I knew I didn’t get it right the first time. But I want now to be different. My love for my partner is so deep and my dreams for our future are so bright, I need to make sure I learn how to fight well to keep our relationship strong.
I have a sneaking suspicion that other couples fights plenty as well, so I polled a group of regular women of various ages and backgrounds. This is what I call: Teach me your magical ways, wise women!
Everyone polled is married. I asked them how to fight, and let me tell you, these women delivered in the advice department. Many shared that while they had been married a certain amount of years, they had been together much longer. They have been with their men for years and years, and they’ve figured out a few things out along the way.
Here is what they had to say about fighting in relationships, and then the inner-workings of my brain as I read their advice (P.S. Almost every response mentioned sex – these women not only know how to fight well, they also know how to have fun!):
Married 1 ½ Years:
There can be healthy fighting and detrimental fighting- One way to keep perspective on which path you are heading down is to think of marriage as one entity. If you are hurting your partner, you are really just hurting yourself.
Fact: I always feel really good for about 2.5 seconds when I say something hurtful. Like — “Target-clearance-section-jackpot” type of really good.
Fact: Immediately that 2.5 seconds, I always feel really terrible for about 2.5 hours after that.
Married 5 Years:
My advice is don’t let the fight turn you into someone you’re not. If you’re not a clingy, controlling, snooping wife don’t be that person in a fight. Keep calm, be yourself and it will work its way out.
I’m cool and sexy and adventurous when we aren’t fighting. At least that’s how I graciously perceive myself; others may debate this. But I can turn into a shrew when I’m mad (other probably won’t debate this). Cheers to staying cool, sexy, and adventurous through it all!
Married 6 Years:
If we have the mindset that an argument brings to surface the places we need refinement, then we don’t come into the argument feeling defeated. Our commitment means NO MATTER how we mess up, we forgive and love because that is when the crap gets filtered out.
Reframing the concept of a fight as a way to each become better instead of something that makes us worse is a total game changer. “Hey honey — are you ready to get refined today? Because I’m about to bring something up….”
Married 9 Years:
Fight, but be kind. Play fair. Don’t call each other names or attack each other’s character. But, don’t hold stuff in. Always remember you love each other. Um can I add have lots of sex? I mean like LOTS!!!!
Play fair in my fights and play dirty in the bedroom? It is really great to be a grownup.
Married 10 Years:
My best advice is that if he’s angry but silent, leave him be. Pushing his buttons to get a reaction or to get him to show some emotion only makes things worse.
You mean my constant badgering him when he’s stewing in his anger is not a good tactic?
Married 10 Years, Together 16:
After a very emotional fight, we both agreed that there had to be a way to monitor the severity and damage of the aftermath. My one rule was that there could be no name calling or cussing; by that point, I feel disrespected, shutdown and become defensive of my self-worth. His – I can’t tell him how he feels or thinks, because I’m not him (makes sense). Instead, I tell him my perception of his behavior. Since this day, about 4 years ago, there have been only healthy fights. Sitting down and discussing how we fight is, honestly, the way we have avoided walking away from each other, leaving things unsaid, and feeling alone in the relationship.
Should it have occurred to me to sit down with my man and discuss what we each need for a healthy argument? Yes. Did it? Not even once.
Married 10 Years:
I could say mean things about my husband. Saying mean things doesn’t help. Self-improvement is good; shame is detrimental. Avoid feeling shame and avoid shaming others. The better half of me has tried to avoid using sneaky techniques to “win” or get what I want. I can’t say I’ve never thought about though.
If I say I’ve never tried sneaky techniques to win a fight, would you all believe me? No? I wouldn’t believe me either.
Married 10 Years:
There are huge benefits in choosing when to bring up a specific topic and how to gracefully communicate. While it’s important to speak up for your needs, remember your spouse has needs, frustrations & stress too. I can be emotional and get annoyed easier than I should given any number of conditions (hunger, lack of sleep, piles of to-do lists un-done), and I think that is ok if sometimes I feel that way. I want grace for those times; I should give him grace for those times. DISCLAIMER: advice is easier to give than to follow, hence the emphasis on grace.
It may or may not be true that I wait until my man is just about to close his eyes and fall peacefully asleep to bring up all that ails me. He’s about to enter blissful sheep-counting, and I sneak attack him with all of the “refinements” I want done in our lives. Instead, maybe I should try it in the morning after lots of coffee?
Married 12 Years:
Recognize and understand the other’s fighting “style” — and don’t take it personal! (Things like “The Silent Treatment,” “Character Assassination,” “Bringing Up The Past,” Yelling, etc). Concentrate on the heart of the argument instead of how it’s delivered.
What does it mean if all of those qualify as my fighting “style”? Should my partner be afraid?
Married 16 Years:
Know how he processes! I’m verbal and he’s internal. There are several escalated arguments that could have been avoided if I’d just given him some space! It’s only failure if both people don’t walk away having learned something new about themselves or their partner afterwards.
Me: “PLEASE TALK TO ME AND TELL ME ALL YOUR FEELINGS! TELL ME MORE! Talk, talk, talk, talk. Why aren’t you talking? We should talk more. We need talking. Talk, talk, talk. MORE TALKING! How do you FEEL about that? Why aren’t you saying something?”
Him: “Leave. Me. Alone.”
Second Marriage of 16 years:
Always take your background and his into consideration. Trust as much as you can. If your gut is telling you something is wrong – it’s probably right and you can either confront it or pray about it.
The way my family communicates and the way his family communicates could not be any more different. We are two family cultures colliding in one relationship. Let’s make the collision more like chocolate and peanut butter, not like an astroid and, say, the Earth.
Married 18 Years:
Throw a cheese grater at them.
This! She gets it.
Married 18 Years:
“Clean your own side of the street.” Make a point to have your own stuff together and NOT be doing the exact things you are mad at him about. We don’t control our partners; we only control ourselves.
Wait. This isn’t all his fault?
Married 18 Years:
I remember hearing a fun piece of advice from Kyra Sedgwick and her hubby Kevin Bacon: “keep the fights clean and the sex dirty.” Speaks to playing above board and not taking the low road in fights. Like name calling and shaming. Keep the sex hot and the fights may just be less dirty. Not promising. But maybe.
I’m ordering some new lingerie right. this. second.
Married 27 Years:
Remember when choosing your words that this is the man you love dearly for many good reasons (if this is not the case, then why bother going through the stress of a fight for a guy who is just a play toy?) At some point, this situation will be a memory…don’t make that memory filled with words you cannot un-say. Take time to make sure you know what emotions you’re experiencing and what message you want him to understand BEFORE you say it. Freaking out is contagious…but in my experience, being kind and calm is contagious too.
What if he is the man I love dearly for many good reasons and my play toy? After all…. everyone and their sister has told me to have more hot sex in order to fight less…… I digress….
Married 30 years:
You do not treat someone you love like an Enemy…period. We have to mature with how we deal with our anger and take responsibility for it. Make sure you REALLY forgive each other and don’t build walls. Don’t let things go on too long; this creates distance, and the good stuff can’t get through. Don’t keep score.
Today’s yoga mantra: My partner is not my enemy. My partner is not my enemy.
Married 35 Years:
One thing I’ve definitely learned over the years is that he can’t read my mind. I have to say something
I don’t want him to read my mind, necessarily, I just want him to know how to do everything I want him to do without having to actually tell him. Make sense?
Married 49 Years:
When having a disagreement, always remember to not take it personally. Everybody has a point to make. In the big scheme of things, most things are not really that important. You’ll agree on more things than not. Compromise when possible – you’ll gain in the end. Remember why you love him – even as you are cussing in your head.
I have to be honest. I came up with this article idea because I thought it would make a fun and enlightening read. I did not realize how much I would personally benefit from reading all this fantastic and challenging advice on how to fight.
These are only small snippets of the longer messages these women sent me. Most of them mentioned the same themes in their own way, which means if you boiled all this advice down, it would say this:
“Fight fair, remember you aren’t enemies, and have lots and lots of hot sex.”
Those, my friends, seem to be the three steps to fighting successfully with your men without ruining your relationship.