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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fighting Makes You Stronger (Or So I Tell Myself)

Last week I talked about having fun in marriage. But if we're being realistic, we all know it's not all fun & games. Marriage is work. It's a never-ending commitment to a never-perfect person. And if you're in a relationship like mine - with two strong-minded, high-maintenance individuals who would never be matched up on any online dating site - it's easy to fall out of the fun and into the fights.

So this week I wanted to talk a little about the fights that keep a marriage together.

Maybe that sounds weird. Even as I wrote it I thought, "But yeah, isn't it fights that ruin a relationship?" And then I thought about it, and with very few exceptions I have to say: every fight I've ever had with my guy has made our relationship better, not worse.

The exception to that are fights in which constructive communication was no longer in play. And I believe that is key. Fights - or if you care to call them "disagreements" or "discussions" or whatever - can be productive, if respect and open communication are used.

Our marriage counselor told us over and over again "You are not each other's enemy." I remember thinking that that statement didn't make any sense. Why would Christian become my enemy? And then he left the toilet seat up one time, and I took it as a personal vendetta against me.

So lately, whenever an issue comes up, I try really hard to focus on the fact that Christian and I are on the same team. And miraculously it works! Since I know we're fighting for the same thing, it's easier to compromise or to see his side of things. Of course, I'm not perfect, and very easily fall into the "it's all about me" trap. But I'm trying to move in the right direction.

There are a few topics that we've yet to reach a compromise on - like the toilet seat thing, or when to have kids - so they are ongoing issues that get brought up from time to time. And I honestly don't see an agreement being made anytime soon about them. So we're trying to learn how to live with disagreements. Because, realistically, we're never going to see everything 100% eye-to-eye. And I'd much rather live in a marriage with open disagreement than secretive musings or passive aggressive acts of frustration.

I thought about it, and here's a few strategies I {try to} follow to make sure that a fight ends up making us stronger:
  • Approach every subject open-minded and willing to change
  • Remember that your significant other is not your enemy
  • Remember the reason why you're fighting (and that's not "to be right"!)
  • Don't make it your goal to win, even if you know you're right
  • Think both long- and short-term, both are important

What are some strategies you use during an argument?


  1. Love this post! Our strategies are to

    1. Always talk about it as soon as it happens.

    2. When one of us starts saying words like "never" or "always" as in, "You ALWAYS leave the set up" or "You NEVER tell me you love me." then the talking needs to stop and be revisited later. Because those words simply aren't true.

  2. I totally agree that fighting/disagreements can make your marriage stronger. But, like you said, you have to fight fair in order for it to. What my husband and I have been trying to work on is learning how the other person argues. I sometimes get really worked up and need a moment to leave the room, have some quiet, and clear my head. Usually after I do that I am able to come back to the discussion and have open communication instead of angry yelling. Jarrod is a "lets get this settled right now" kind of person. At first he didn't understand why I needed to have some space...and would follow me....arguing. This just escalated the problem. Once we understood how the other fought, it make open communication 10 times easier.

  3. Amazing post, Amy! Did you see the movie "Life as We Know It"? There's a quote in the movie that really resonates with me with arguments and staying together...

    "If my wife and I fought like that... we'd still be married."

    I think arguing is healthy. M and I have disagreements or "tiffs" as we like to call them. And even when I get highly emotional, we still always make sure to end the argument on good terms.

  4. An amazing post and a great reminder!

  5. Great post! Good tips on "effective fighting" which we ALL need!

    Also, love the wedding cake!!!

  6. this is very good..i love the 'enemy' tip.