When you get into a new relationship there is a period of time that you have to truly get to know each other. You’re still in your honeymoon phase and everything is rosey with unicorns and sunshine… until you have your first fight. What happens now? Was it a deal-breaker? Do you stop talking for a while? Not sleep till you figure it out? (BAD advice, FYI – sleep on it, always) But all of a sudden the tables have turned and you are in uncharted territory. How you deal with conflict will define your relationship whether this is a casual fling or something long-term.
There are so many ways to deal with conflict and ultimately you have to find what works for both of you. For most of us, we find ourselves retreating back to what we are familiar with. Whether that’s what we saw our parents do or from relationships past – generally not the best solution. Sahir and I realized that we picked up cues from our parents. Mine (who are since divorced) yelled and argued with each other and his, who never fought in front of their kids, and therefore caused Sahir to avoid conflict entirely. Not a good mix.
As we figured out what worked for us, this one rule has changed the way that we fight and it has been the best thing for our relationship. It’s simple: don’t ever use vague words to describe you’re emotions. That’s it. Take “mad” “sad” or “angry” off the table. Expecting your partner to know what you are feeling when you use generic words isn’t fair to your relationship and won’t help get to the root cause of your issues. Instead, replace “I’m mad at you” with “It hurt me when you …”
Women are notorious for wanting their partners to know what bothers them and having to explain it – makes us so much more mad. “You should know what you did!” – been there, said that. Trust me, I know. But keeping score won’t help either of you in the long term. Help your partner out and explain the root cause of the tension by saying things like “It frustrated me the way you..” or “I felt excluded when you…” Most of the time, we just want our feelings validated and using words like “mad” or “angry” will cause our partner to shut down emotionally and get nowhere. Remember, the faster your fight is over the sooner you get to cuddle and order take out.