Julia and I were married in January 1993 and had high hopes for a great adventure together. We had no idea what was waiting for us around the corner. Much to the surprise of many around us, our first year was actually amazing and off to a great start. Since those early days we have enjoyed a great relationship, but not without its fights and quarrels. I have never physically threatened my wife but there are more times than I can remember where we have said things in the heat of the moment that we both wish we had never said. In fact, there are times I wish I had said things that I was too hurt to say, like I’m sorry, I love you or I didn’t mean that. Here are 2 things we discovered that would help healthy couples fight:
1. Stabilise a rocking boat.
It’s one thing to have an argument but it’s entirely different to let that fester below the surface. It becomes toxic. Best advice we were given by our pre-marriage counsellors was to never let the sun go down on your anger. In other words, keep short accounts. Make up, make love but make amends.
What is the distance between challenge and change?
How long do you leave it between being challenged and actually changing?
Work on making that distance shorter and watch your relationships flourish.
2. Allow the other person to be heard.
One thing Jules and I have noticed as we get older is how much we both thought we knew but now understand we didn’t. It’s just too easy to enter any situation with pre-conceived thinking about the other person. This is mostly what is responsible for our arguments. Simple reflective questions like, I wonder if there is a different way to see this? Why is my way the only way anyway? Could I be not seeing something? What if I knew what I didn’t last time? These all help to create a little more compassion and even help to understand that there could be another way of reading the situation. In many times, being different is not wrong, it’s just different! Allowing the person to speak and share allows you to know and understand in a better way the one you fell in love with.
Don’t focus on the fight, replenish the relationship!
There is some great research out there that says, “Productive arguments are one of the things that appear to distinguish couples who stay together from those who split”.