A fight in a relationship is a complex thing many different influences and factors that determine the overall tone of the fight as well as how it will conclude. Most people try to avoid fights in a relationship due to the myth that fighting is a bad thing. Fighting in a relationship is healthy, some might even say it is invigorating to a relationship. A relationship that has no fights is avoiding or ignoring something’s, while a relationship with an overabundance is struggling to mask bigger problems. So where is that perfect medium between not enough and too many? How do you determine if a fight is worth having?
The first thing that should be done is to determine what the outcome of the fight will be and how it will affect the future of the relationship. Many people call this “picking your fights” and this is an accurate description of what to do but not how to do it. Each person and relationship has its own qualifiers as to what to fights they deem important but they miss the implications of how the outcome will change the direction of the fighters. The first question the person picking the fight should asses is if this issue should be addressed immediately or at all. Questioning if the subject of the dispute is something that is likely to come up in the future is a reasonable qualifier for if the fight should occur. Ask yourself “Will this be a problem in a year?” or “Will I remember this a year from now?” If no, then it is a hardship that is easier avoided than pointlessly confronted. These are “in the moment fights”. They usually solve nothing and only serve to antagonize over something inconsequential to a bigger problem. This brings me to my next point.
Recognizing the problem a fight is really addressing. Sometimes when a fight springs up from seemingly nowhere, there is a greater problem or lingering issue that has not been consciously expressed yet. Before choosing to address a short term aggravator, think of what long term issue affects it. For instance, in the issue of not putting things back in the proper spot could be a lingering problem of respect for common space or even responsibility to keeping order. Tune the argument to fit that problem and avoid focusing on accusations because they don’t speak to the true nature of the problem.
Something that people forget to do while picking a fight is choosing words with care. There are phrases that can trigger a defensive and uncooperative response that can cause fights to become larger than problem at hand. It is best to avoid indefinite saying like, “always” and “never”. These two phrases are bad because they focus on the short term aggravator as something that happens continuously and without fail. It shows short shortsightedness and ignorance to there being a middle ground. They ignore the idea of their being an outlier to the situation. Instead percentages can be used or saying, “most often” or “some of”.
Even when choosing the words correctly, delivery of those words can be just as important. Watching the tone in which you say the words and facial response can be just as important. Saying “Sorry.” In a bored, exasperated tone and “I forgive you.” while looking away can speak to the opposite of the sincerity of the statement. Admitting that you were wrong at any point in a fight should not speak to the admission of guilt but rather to the acceptance of the problem and the willingness to work towards a solution. Picking your fights successfully is a subtle art that takes time and patience to learn and a lifetime of experience to master.