the rules of fighting
I’m a horrible fighter. I can be mean, sarcastic, condescending – name a bad adjective, and it probably describes me when I’m fighting. To make matters worse and more upsetting, I have a temper. A bad, passionate, Italian temper. It’s demoralizing and hurtful – to the person with whom I’m fighting and to myself. I leave some arguments feeling sad and dejected, not proud of how I handled it.
My mom fights like that. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. When I was a pre-teen and teenager, she would explode in anger. She would yell, then cry, then yell again, then cry, until she got rid of all that strong anger and pain. Then she’d be completely calm, rational, ready to talk and eager to apologize. The calm after the storm. This cycle really messed with my head. I started to hold in everything I thought and felt. She’d be yelling at me, getting angrier because I wasn’t saying anything at all, and the angrier she got, the more I pulled within myself. So I know, firsthand, how destructive that pattern is.
And yet, now I do it. I hate it. I hate it so much. My mom is this warm, loving, vivacious, hilarious, superhumanly strong woman. I wish we could pick and choose what we take from our parents, you know? I’m proud to be like her in many, many ways, but I wish I hadn’t gotten her emotional (in)sensibilities. But the reality is – I did, so I gotta figure out how to deal with it. I mean, STAT! I want to nip this thing in the bud (…………so I can blossom without the thorns…..?! (BAM! GROAN))
If you’re still reading after that and all this TMI, I’d like to share with you a list of rules I’ve made for fighting – to keep arguments healthy and productive, instead of a WWE match. Here goes…
If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all or sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can cause permanent damage
This is the golden rule, right? Or is that, “love thy neighbor?” I forget. Anyway. No cursing, whatsoever, never not ever ever. Leave it out. Our fights shouldn’t need to be censored. And no name calling. None. I follow this rule in my day-to-day life as much as I can – why would I throw it out the window when I’m fighting with someone I love? That’s when it’s most important!
Don’t walk away
Does anyone else have that Kelly Clarkson song stuck in their head now? Just me? Okay. Womp!
When I get angry, I storm off. Ohhh, I’ve gotten so much better about this, but it is tragic. Imagine a 20-something-year-old throwing a hissy fit – nearly stomping the ground and turning and walking off mid-sentence. It’s not a pretty picture. When you’re fighting, stay for the long haul. And if you’re not prepared to talk about it – if emotions are too raw and strong, suggest a “time out” – Saved By the Bell style. Never just storm away. Think about if the other person left you mid-sentence. That’s really hurtful and leaves you even more confused.
Innocent until proven guilty
Instead of assuming the worst (he/she forgot, didn’t care, etc etc etc), ask what happened and take time to listen. I think at least 87.4% of the time in my fights with the man, once I finally calm down and just hear him out, I can see where he’s coming from and why he made the decision he did, even if I still disagree. Even when I can’t get what in the world he was thinking – we all want the benefit of the doubt. If it’s good enough for the U.S. justice system, it’s gotta be good enough for our relationships, right?
Remember you love this person. Like, a lot. A lot a lot. He’s your person. He’s your partner in crime. He’s as funny, charming and cute as he is when you’re not totally pissed off at him. Tell him that. Mid fight. Who cares? The argument isn’t going anywhere (and if it does, good riddance!).
It’s hard to say I’m sorry… but do it anyway
Admit when you’re wrong! “I messed up.” “It wasn’t fair to you.” Then verbalize what you’ll do differently next time. And actually work at doing it differently next time!
Don’t hold grudges
Grudges are the worst. Ever. Don’t bring up stuff that happened like two years ago or two months ago or two days ago! That happened and (hopefully) got resolved. Stick in the present.
Let’s get physical
About 200% of arguments between the man and me are resolved with hugs and cuddles. The second we touch, we literally and metaphorically close the distance arguing put between us. It doesn’t work all the time, but lovers before fighters, right?
“Punishment” should only be a bad fetish joke
Don’t ignore calls or texts. Don’t hold it over their heads. Don’t make them “pay” or “make up for it” (though, let’s be honest, flowers never hurt anyone!). To that end, let’s all just let up on the tire slashing, eh, Carrie Underwood?
What are your “fighting rules?” Do you have any to add to this list?
you and me baby, we’re stuck like glue