Ask a Guy: How to Stop Fighting in your Relationships post image

Ask a Guy: How to Stop Fighting in your Relationships


My boyfriend and I love each other, but he and I have been having more and more fights.

I try my best to be diplomatic, but he keeps pushing until I snap and the conversation turns ugly.

We’re both very strong-minded people and when we disagree it becomes a massive argument and days of “silent treatment”.

How do I break the cycle?

Many people have the thought that fighting keeps relationship alive.  That is, if the other person is fighting with you, they care about you or see you as significant in their life.

Most of the time the fights and arguments that break out have nothing to do with the problem at hand. It is often the other person projecting their own baggage onto you.

Fighting and arguing is incredibly destructive to a relationship.  It prevents real communication, defers responsibility from oneself and prevents looking at your own behavior.

It’s ironic that we think fighting will somehow solve the problem at hand when, if anything, it emotionally compels both parties to want to assert their offending behavior even more strongly.

The more you fight, the more you get stuck.  Both people dig their heels into the ground and refuse to budge since that would mean they “lost”.

Men and women can both become “addicted” to needing to win arguments and fights.  And, like an addiction, they become unconcious to the huge price they are paying and the destruction they are doing to themselves, their relationships and the people around them.

1)  The first step to cut out fighting is letting go of your own anger.

Anger is like cigarettes or alcohol:  It is poisonous, but it is also addicting and gives you a “high”.  Once you have tasted the “high” of fighting with a particular person, you will start to crave fighting with them unless you make a point to stop giving in to anger cravings.

Quick Guide to Getting Rid of Anger

I am not going to go into a long explanation of each.  I would encourage you to think about each item and what it would look like in your life:

a) Stop blaming the other person
b) Write out a list of every price you pay because of your anger and fighting
c) Aim to be happy instead of being “right”
d) Take care of yourself and focus only on taking care of the other person, no matter what
e) REFUSE to fight or argue with them anymore – stop feeding into anger cravings

2)  There’s a difference between disagreeing and fighting.

Disagreeing just means you have one idea, they have another and you don’t agree.

Fighting is giving into an emotional craving and very quickly leads to you passionately speaking through anger and defensiveness, exaggerating facts and saying things you don’t mean.

When two egos get involved in a fight, they tear the relationship between them into shreds.

You can dramatically improve your relationship by recognizing that part of love is respect.

And part of respect is putting your emotional cravings on hold and giving that person the space to have their own opinion and thoughts.

It doesn’t mean you have to cater to them.  It doesn’t even mean you have to agree.

But for your own sake, you need to let go of your anger and give them permission to have their own thoughts and feelings.

People have a funny habit of having showing love and respect for the people they are closest too.  For some reason they feel that being close to someone means they can having a short temper with them, have a short temper with them and treat them more poorly than they would someone they weren’t close to.

When you think of it like that, it’s no wonder why this mindset leads to fighting and strained relationships.

3)  Listen

Just listen.

There is nothing more anger-provoking and fight-baiting than interrupting the other person or jumping down their throat the moment that they finish their sentence.

Learn to relax and slow down.  Give them space to speak and make a point of giving 100% attention to them while they’re speaking.

Half the reason that people fight is because they pay attention to their own internal feelings of anger instead of just respectfully and lovingly paying attention to the other person.

4)  Forgive yourself and forgive him

I doubt that he means to fight with you and I know that you don’t mean to fight with him.

Before you can make progress, you need to forgive him and you need to forgive yourself.  Wipe the slate clean so that you can start fresh.

5)  Commit to changing yourself, no matter what

When it comes to change in a relationship, you really can’t change the other person per se.  They need to be willing to change themselves.

What you can do is stop feeding into your half of the cycle.

This is challenging, but by talking about it here you will be better equipt to handle the challenge.

How to prepare for relationship change:

a)  Realize your half of the responsibility.

When you take the time to notice what you’re doing that is feeding into the fighting and arguments, it will shift your focus to self-improvement and off of blaming.

You can only change yourself.  You can’t change the other person.

Blaming is the delusional belief that you somehow can make the other person change by making them feel bad.  It’s destructive and it doesn’t work.

b)  Realize that you will need to keep your urges in check.

When you commit to stop feeding into the fighting and arguments, there are going to be several times where you feel the urge to fight and argue.  It will almost feel like the other person is baiting you to fight or egging you on.

You need to commit to your gameplan and refuse to feed into the problem.

Again, you can only control yourself and not the other person.  If you can demonstrate that you know longer feed into the problem, the other person will eventually cut the crap too.

c)  Realize that if you truly love and respect the other person, you will put your ego aside and invest in stopping the destructive behaviors.

There are times where I feel the urge to fight or argue with someone I’m close to when they push my buttons.

Sometimes I rise above it and don’t give in.  Sometimes I get sucked into the drama and it becomes a very ugly conversation.

What’s the difference?  What is it I am able to do when I don’t give in versus the times that I do?

The winning strategy is being in touch with my commitment to my love and respect for the other person.

When I am able to stay in touch with my love and respect for the other person, I am able to keep my emotions in check and I don’t blow up at them.

When you “need” the other person to be a certain way or you’ll be angry, that’s not love or respect.  That’s manipulation… that’s dehumanization and it is the furthest thing from love or respect possible.

Respect and love for the other person means putting your ego down and being OK with them the way they are.

It doesn’t mean catering to their every request, putting their needs before yours or anything like that.  That’s just a recipe for resentment and would be an equally destructive problem.

It just means calming down and realizing you don’t really need them to be any other way than they are.  If you love and respect them, give them that freedom and in time, they’ll naturally do the same for you.

Good luck and hope it helps,

eric charles

{ 5 comments… add one }

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Jess June 17, 2012, 8:20 pm

Thank you so much for this article, I am going to try my best to start making your suggestions a habit in my relationship. This is very good advice.

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Anna October 11, 2011, 5:42 am

Eric,

Thank you so much for your article – it’s very thought provoking and really inspired me to take a hard look at myself.

The closing statement left me with a few questions. How can a couple strike a balance between accepting each other exactly the way they are, and sharing with each other ways that they can make each other happier? Isn’t a big part of a relationship learning what makes the other person happy and what really upsets them, and then trying to alter your behavior accordingly out of love for them?

I’m stuck in a horrible cycle of arguing with my boyfriend but I try so hard to have conversations instead of arguments. It’s not that I need him to be a certain way immediately, I would just like it if he tried to slowly get better about the big things that bother me (of course I’m willing to do the same). But I’m afraid that he will never want to get better because he knows I love him and don’t want to leave him. I completely understand what you mean about not “needing” him to be a certain way and I’m doing a lot of meditating on that already. But isn’t there any room for expressing to each other how we could make each other happier?

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Ashley March 15, 2011, 12:22 pm

I could not have found this at a better time. My boyfriend and I are trying to work things out again. This is the second time in our adult lives that we are dating (third time overall), and it seems that it is always a very trying situation. We love and care for each other very much, but we are also both so very stubborn. Arguing seems to be a scheduled part of our day. I’m going to try to put this to work and see if we can’t make it through…because we will be great if we can. Thank you so much!

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Angelica LaBrake February 8, 2011, 5:05 am

i was at the movies and i texted this guy he replied quickly i didnt text back in five minutes he texts again i noticed he had H+G=forever<3 and i tell him the movie is boring he asks to come by me,but i had to leave he texted me "waaait!" and he came outside he talked with me and my friends for about 15 minutes my friend knew him he said oh how are you and that one chick doing and he says eh,like were not going out and he hugged me for about 3 minutes and now when i text him he barley texts me back and he keeps it short is it because it was late at night?like around 10-12 i texted him and when i do he says he is at a "party"?when he was just with the movies .the next night i texted him and i said hows life?!<3:) he replied terrible i said ahh,why?!): and he never replied..he doesnt text mei text him. did he just want to be a one night stand?i started to catch feeling for him!

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Annie January 13, 2011, 2:20 pm

I agree with the answers; letting go of anger is a big thing when fighting with someone you love. If you don’t let go of the issues at hand (especially when they have been talked through), you remain resentful and you carry that anger and hurt into every subsequent fight so it’s never REALLY over.

Being respectful of your partner is also very important; the more respect you give each other, the more likely you will be able to handle your arguments diplomatically and in a mature manner. If you scream at one another and call each other names, you are only asking for more pain and hurt to follow. Handle it in the way you would handle a conversation with your grandparents (respectfully and lovingly) and you will be just fine!

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