It’s funny how when we run out of things to say in a conversation, we often start to fight. And as much as this gives some more food for conversation, it’s not the best option that you have.
So what do you think, are fights good or bad for a relationship?
Are they positive or negative for your relationship?
The truth is, as I see it, that fights are really bad for a relationship when you approach them WRONG, and they are really good for a relationship when you approach them RIGHT.
- The wrong way to approach fights is to see them as bad, and try to avoid them at any cost. Or when you are already fighting, to see them as a competition or as a war and try to find the best argument to win the fight.
- The right way, however, to view fights is to see them as OPPORTUNITIES to improve the relationship. Because at their core, that’s what fights are, they point out aspects of your relationship where you still need to work on.
And when you solve that problem, your relationship becomes so much stronger, and there’s less problems to fight about.
But how do you handle fights so that they help you improve the relationship?
Glad you asked! 🙂
In my research and experience, what I’ve noticed is that there’s a healthy way to handle fights, and this way follows 4 simple steps.
Step 1: Become proactive
Step 2: Find the real cause
Step 3: Negotiate your solution
Step 4: Extract the lessons
Each of these steps consists of asking one simple question.
Step 1: Become proactive
During a fight, we often (if not always) become reactive to each other’s arguments, looking for the best argument we can find to reply to our partners argument. So, she says something and you react to what she said, then she reacts to what you said, and then you react to what she sad and so on – getting into the fighting trap.
This way two things happens:
1. First we amplify the fight and we become more and more aggressive.
2. And second of all, we move away from the actual issue that started the fight in the first place.
The solution here, however, is becoming PROACTIVE instead of reactive, and when you realize that you are fighting – asking one important question:
“Wait baby, what are we actually fighting about here?”
Asking this question would help you get back to the main issue that started the fight, and allow you to calmly solve that issue TOGETER.
And I say together, because, you see, a fight is NOT a war, and you are not enemies. You are on the same side, and the enemy is the problem itself. So, you don’t want to find the best argument and win the war individually, you want to win it together.
So remember: When you realize that you’re fighting, ask this key question: “What are we fighting about here?”
Step 2: Find the root cause
It’s very common for us humans to fight for symptoms of problems not for the actual causes. As a result we fight about superficial problems, and we ignore the actual causes that created those problems.
And the real causes are usually deeper issue, fears and insecurities that we have, but we’re too afraid to communicate to our partners, and so what we do is to mask our fears and insecurities into blames and complaints about our partner’s behavior.
So we try to solve our inner fears by trying to fix our partner’s behavior. And what that does is to put a band aid on our main problem until very soon another superficial problem will pop up due to the same core issue that we’re too afraid to express and address.
Imagine a fight as a FIRE ALARM. The smoke is what starts the fire alarm, but there is actually a fire that created the smoke, which then started the fire alarm.
When we humans usually fight, we often stay at the level of the fire alarm by being reactive to each other’s arguments. Then if we are a little more mature we get back to the smoke that started the alarm by being Proactive.
And the big mistake is that we stay there, we focus on the smoke only, we open the windows, the doors and so on, to get the smoke out, but never look for the actual fire.
We focus on the symptom of the real cause, and rarely (if ever) investigate more to discover the real cause of the issue.
But how do you find the real cause you ask?
Glad you asked! 🙂
What you do is to ask another important question:
“Why are we fighting about this issue?”
And asking this question over and over again, using different words, it could be once or twice or it could be asking it 4-5 times, until you get to the bottom of that issue, until you discover the fear or insecurity that lead to that fight.
This might get confusing and a little challenging because your partner won’t be so eager to share her fears and insecurities right away because they are so personal and so intimate that it feels uncomfortable to share them, and she may be afraid to be judged or misunderstood. That’s why she tried to mask it with a blame or complaint in the first place.
So by asking a few WHY questions repeatedly, and by throwing various guesses out there that you feel might represent the actual fire (because we usually can feel what the deeper issue is) until you get to the actual fear or insecurity, you will find the real cause of that fight.
And then and only then, you will move to step no. 3, which is:
Step 3: Negotiate a common solution
You see, just focusing on the smoke and trying to clear the room of smoke, without looking for the fire, won’t solve the problem and new smoke will rise and more damage will be done.
That’s why you want to find the fire, extinguish it, and only then clear the room of smoke.
So, when you have a fight, you want to find the real cause of the fight by going through step 2, and only then going to step 3 and finding a common solution, instead of what most people do…they focus on the symptom and try to eliminate it, just like doctors often do – they give you a few painkillers, but the actual issue stills remains there.
So now, that you found the REAL CAUSE, you want to negotiate your differences, if there are any, and find a common solution that will make both of you happy.
And the way to do that is by asking the next important question:
“What can we do about it?”
If you can’t find a perfect solution to make both of you happy at that moment, you can find a temporary solution and try it out for a while.
And now that you work on the actual cause and you eliminate it, many other potential fights and arguments will vanish away.
But that’s not all, my friend. There’s one more step to this process, a step that will make ALL the difference in how much your relationship grows after every fight…
Step 4: Extract the lessons
Let me ask you something… How would you feel about buying food and throwing it away? Would you feel like that would be a waste of money?
Then why are you wasting your negative emotions during a fight without actually learning from them?
You see EVERY fight comes with a few valuable lessons, lessons that are unique for every fight, and lessons for which you already PAID for with your negative emotions…So not learning these valuable, unique and expensive lessons would be a big loss for you.
And if you don’t learn your lessons from this fight, they will repeat themselves over and over again making you suffer even more, until you finally learn them.
As a popular saying goes:
“Life tries to teach you a lesson first with a feather’s touch, and if you don’t learn it that first time, it will teach you more and more aggressively, until it hits you with a hammer!”
The same happens when fighting, at first you may fight for a small issue, but if you don’t learn the lesson that small issue carried, it will repeat itself more and more aggressively until it becomes a BIG issue!
So after every fight, what I like to do is to ask the question:
“What can we learn from this fight?”
And we start brainstorming a few lessons that we can learn. I let her tell me what she learned from it, and then I tell her what I learned from this fight.
Sometimes concluding by both of as telling each other one lesson that we want the other partner to remember, by saying: “If there is one lesson that I want you to remember from this fight, it is this one ….”
So I would tell her the lesson I want her to remember, and she would tell me the lesson she wants me to remember.
Some examples would be: to not interrupt each other when we speak; to be more sincere and express the REAL cause instead of masking it with blames and complaints; to implement the common solution that we found and so on, many other unique and valuable lessons specific to that fight.
So to make a recap, this, my friend, is how you approach fight the right way: You must see them as opportunities to improve the relationship.
And when fighting going through the four steps and asking the four important questions:
1. What are we fighting about here?
2. Why are we fighting about this?
3. What can we do about it?
4. What can we learn from it?
So next time you have a fight, remember this method and apply it. You will be amazed at how effective this can be.
Picture by Fe llya