Tuesday, May 1, 2012

how to fight the good fight

I've always thought there was something really wrong with couples who NEVER fought. How could that be possible? Are these people zombies? Do they both have Type C personalities? Are they pathological liars? Do they really hate confrontation THAT much?  The H Bomb and I fight.  Not all the time, but I'd say we average one solid argument every week and one fight a month.  Maybe less.  Maybe more. 

I'm a big believer that fights are good.  They should not be the end all, be all to a relationship or lead to a BLOW OFF.  The life partner and I have a pattern when it comes to fighting.  Usually, a super irrational argument fueled by booze and hurt feelings ends with one of us in tears (always him, he's such a cry-baby.  Okay, just kidding.  I'm the one that cries.)  Then, the following day, we have a super rational conversation about the fight.  The kind where we feel even closer and more in love by the end of it.  The kind where we fist bump and say things like "communication nation!"  So, here are my top ten tips on how to fight the good fight.  Or more like how not to fight the bad fight.  

10.  Fighting with your sig other should not feel like a course in speech and debate.  I would say this is Bry's (Bry/Bryon, that's my husband.  Not sure how often I've actually used his name, but I'm starting to get tired of H-Bomb) number one complaint about the way I fight with him.  He feels like I argue every point.  I feel like I'm simply trying to defend myself.  Example: he might say "you never plan date nights" and I might come back with HD footage of myself logging into open table and making a dinner reservation with time codes from several different evenings to prove him wrong.  I need to learn that this isn't necessary.  Why not just say: I hear you, I'll plan more date nights, ASS FACE! 

9.  If they gave out Oscars for Meanest Performance, I swear I'd have a hundred.  I am super good at being mean.  I consider myself a generally pleasant and nice person, but I have a gift in coming up with really hurtful one-liners that send a person reeling.  He's pretty good at it too.  I'm like the Meryl Streep of mean and he's the Glenn Close.  Sometimes being bitchy feels good, but keep in mind-- one mean comment can be etched in someone's memory for a lifetime.  Try keeping a mean journal where you just write down all the mean shit you were tempted to say in the argument and protect it with your life.

8.  Timing is everything.  I have awful timing when it comes to arguments.  My favorite times to pick a fight are right before bed, en route to a party or double date where we have to smile and act in love in front of other people, over the phone when Bry is traveling and just about to walk into a meeting, and/or when we've both had too much to drink.  I suffer from that unfortunate disease where I need to get things off my chest right away.  I can't wait until the next morning to bring things up, but fighting at inopportune times is a terrible idea.  Even if not fighting means tossing and turning and having a panic attack 'til 4am until your tears finally lull you to sleep.

7.  Try not to yell or better yet, never raise your voice louder than the other person.  If you can succeed at doing this, then you get to say things like "why are you shouting?" "there's no need to raise your voice"  and "Please communicate with me like a normal person."  This automatically makes you seem sane and the other person seem crazy which disqualifies them from winning the fight.

6.  Did I say winning?  Oops.  Fighting shouldn't be about winning.  There is no cash prize at the end of an argument or confetti or a press room or Ryan Seacrest congratulating you.  The sooner you can remind yourself of that, the sooner the fight will come to a peaceful tied game.

5.  You know what else I'm a total pro at when it comes to fighting?  Bringing up stuff from four years ago that we've already fought about 100 times.  This is a strategic tactic.  Like when he says something like "You never ring out the sponge when you wash the dishes" I can come back with "you flirted with that bartender right in front of my face in February of 2009."  If fighting was a soccer game, then this should be met with a red card.  I propose a rule that I never plan on following: past relationship errors have a 90 day warranty.  If it's 90 days past the time the person committed their relationship sin, then you can't bring it up.  If they cheat on you or murder your parents, then those two things come with a lifetime warranty. 

4.  Forget hugging it out.  Try fucking it out.   Okay, Bry is sitting next to me as I type this and he said "come on babe, you can do better than that."  And what's funny is I knew he would say that.  So, I guess try not to be passive aggressive.  Which is a total no-brainer, but another one of my hidden talents.  My fave passive aggressive move is to turn the other way in bed and go to sleep without saying good night.  Oh, snap.  That one gets him every time.  It takes me about five minutes to talk myself out of going to bed angry and then I turn around and snuggle up to him and say "are you mad at me?"

3.  When I was single and all my friends were in relationships and they would confide in me about their fights, I always told them they needed to learn to let some things go.   And yeah, whatever, that's true...but it doesn't always work.  I tend to let things go in the moment only to bring them up in the heat of an argument way later.  To be fair, Bry does this too.  It's like-- huh?  Why didn't you tell me two months ago you were mad that I am way too perfect all the time. 

2.  Don't let an argument ruin your entire day/night/weekend/life.  I've gotten better at this (thanks therapy!) but there was a time when the sig other could say one wrong thing and I would turn to stone.  I would stop making eye-contact.  I would stop smiling.  I would speak in yes and no answers or more like yes and no grunts.  And when he cracked a joke, I would look at him like he just pooped in my Urban Outfitters handbag.  It's kind of like a fake it 'til you make it scenario.  Grin and bear it until you're not that upset anymore.  Obvi, this does not apply to the big fights-- just the little stuff.  Ask Bry about the time he took me to a Greek restaurant for brunch instead of some place I could get eggs benedict and a mimosa.  I nearly murdered him, when instead I should have just been like "falafels are my jam.  bring on the pita bread!"

1.  Try really hard not to fight in public.  Public Displays of Affection have always bugged me out, but Public Displays of I'm going to rip your face off are not good either.   We're usually pretty good about fighting behind closed doors...unless we're at some milestone event.  If it's your birthday or wedding or baby shower, we are totally going to ruin your night by getting into a crazy ass fight.  But it's cool, cause fighting is healthy.

So, loyal readers.  The next time you're about to get into a fight with the person you love, remember:  at least you are not married to me.


1 comment:

  1. knowing how to argue is so important. i would, humbly, add (and maybe this goes with the letting things go part) that there are some petty things that are just not worth spending your day angry over.

    and i love the notebook.

    no, i like REALLY love the notebook and i really can't wait until i'm ready to watch it again.