Saturday, November 20, 2010

Is Fighting Really Good For Your Relationship?

A few years back, a friend of mine called me from a hospital. “Khris, I need your help. I am at (so-and-so) hospital, badly bruised; I need you to come here and take me back home.” I freaked. But rather than asking too many questions, I hailed the next auto and rushed to the hospital ER.
“What? Why?” were the only two words that I managed to ask when I saw him, sitting on a wheelchair; with cuts and scrapes; forehead bandaged in true Bollywood style.
After I took him home and he settled down, he told me his story.
“We fought.” (The couple fought often).
To keep the conversation light I joked, I hope she isn’t responsible for your “condition”.
“In a way, she was,” came the reply.
I gulped. Here we go.
Earlier that day, the couple, who’ve been seeing each other for over a year, fought over some, same useless topic; but that day, it turned ugly. My friend got so upset after the fight (which happened in an auto in peak-time traffic), that in a fit of spontaneity, he wanted to get out of the auto and leave. Only it didn’t strike him that traffic had started moving, and as he jumped out, the auto zoomed ahead. The result? He went tumbling down the road, and banged his head against the divider. Later, he told me how he thanked God in heaven there was not much traffic behind him, or else he would have been roadkill.
I am, however, happy to inform that the two are not seeing each other anymore; and he is happily married as well.
Makes me wonder; what makes people go crazy when they fight with a lover?
Red flags
Continuous fighting in a relationship could show signs of it breaking apart. Take for example someone I knew during college days. She was perennially angry with her then boyfriend. The otherwise docile, sweet girl turned into Miss Crazy. She would fling things at him, scream at the top of her voice. It was like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story. He brought out the worst in her, and she could not help but behave the way she did. It was out of control. After much counselling, she decided to give him the boot; and needless to say, she is back to her happy self again.
As you can imagine, I find it strange when people say fighting is good for your relationship. I, for one, don’t really believe in it; but sometimes, when I cannot help but unnecessarily pick silly fights with my significant other, I am surprised at how gratifying it is!
A friend of mine tells me, “Sometimes I love fighting with my husband because it brings us closer together.”
Another friend complains, “I hate fighting with my husband; but I really can’t stand it when he intentionally irritates me with mundane things. We end up fighting all the time. And he thinks I like to pick a fight, when actually, I don’t.”
What I have realised through the years is that the ‘whys’ of fighting cannot be explained. The idea is to know and understand what can be done.
Believe it or not, there are rules to have a healthy and fair fight! These rules help you have a healthy ‘discussion’ (yes, we don’t call it ‘fighting’ anymore!), and will also help you develop good communication levels between the both of you. Take a look at these rules of fighting, as explained by a couple of relationship counsellors I spoke to.
* Use bad language while fighting.
* Threaten to terminate your relationship, just for the sake of gaining an upper hand.
* Become judgmental about his character if it has nothing to do with the fight.
* Use force (hands, feet, vessels, mobile phones) to show power.
* Quote past experiences. Let bygones be bygones.
* React! Yes, reaction is an emotional process that could make the situation worse.
* Respond! A response is to find a solution to the problem. This can lead to creative handling of future problems.
* Fight when both of you are calm and composed.
* Fight in a place where you will not be disturbed. Make sure the kids or a third-party are not around.
* Make sure that if he begins what he has to say, you allow him to end it. DO NOT interrupt him.
* Remember to express what you are feeling at that exact same moment. Don’t hesitate to say it if you are feeling “sad”, rather than “angry” at that point of time.
Making up tips…
Post fighting, both of you need your space to settle your emotions and get back together. Here’s what you do:
* Doing something that is ‘not you’ can be bring relief to the tension in your fights. Surprise him, do something that you would usually never do. Get him flowers, candy, or say things to him that you would normally never say. (Nice things, of course!)
* Say sorry. If it was your fault and you know it, say sorry.
* Celebrate! Once a resolution has been reached, celebrate the occasion. A candle light dinner, good sex. In other words, be close to each other.
* Last but not the least, FORGET about the issues that caused hurt. Rather, concentrate on the solutions that you have come up with.
So, is fighting really good for your relationship? There will always be differing thoughts on the subject. The key is to have open communication so that there is no scope for misunderstanding.
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