Every couple fights. It’s a given in all relationships. We’re individuals with feelings, and home is where we get real. You had a bad day or you’re tired and the next thing you know, unkind words are coming out of your mouth. Ouch. Then there are things like money, family, health, and parenting that are challenging by their very nature. The point is there will be fights even in the best of relationships. But there’s a huge difference between the couples who just fight to fight and those who fight to make things better.
So what do successful couples do differently when they fight?
1. They hear the other person out
Successful couples do more of what’s called Active Listening and don’t cut the other person off. They take turns speaking, share how they feel and use more “I” statements than the finger-pointing “you” statements. They think about the other person’s feelings and don’t try to cut them down to win the argument.
2. They make the other person feel heard
Someone who’s actively listening will recall what is being said. They’ll use phrases like “I see what you mean,” and “I didn’t realize that” to make the other person feel heard. Successful couples take this empathetic approach and try to understand not just what is being said, but how the other person may be feeling. That’s how they learned their partner is more worried about losing his/her job than they realized.
3. They don’t walk away
The person leaving will say something like, “I want to go and think about this (or go for a run). Can we continue when I get back?” They don’t just walk away because they understand how disrespectful it feels to walk out on someone who is feeling hurt. Successful couples will stay up late to hash things out and will even take the morning off work to talk rather than let things simmer.
4. They usually sit down to talk, not stand up and argue
They sit down, you know, like adults do when they see that it’s getting into a longer discussion.
5. They never go scorched earth
No matter how upset they are, they don’t attack their partner and definitely don’t insult them by bringing up things they’re sensitive about. Successful couples refrain from negative name-calling and eye-rolling. And they never go past a certain point. They are their most vulnerable when fighting, and don’t act defensive, fold their arms or turn away from the other person.
6. They tell the truth
Even at the risk of great hurt, tell the truth when it’s important. Since most of us can detect lies anyway, why bother? By being honest, you’re protecting the trust in your relationship, not your own skin.
7. They don’t hold grudges
Successful couples are able to have those difficult conversations and at the end of them, leave it in there. They will make a genuine effort to do what they agreed to do, and so there’s no need for their partner to continually bring up the past or to hold onto grudges.
Much like a business is in business to succeed, so are great relationships. To be a successful business or relationship, each party must be vested in the long-term health of the whole. Protect the health of yours with the habits of successful couples so you two can build something together. Even if you two don’t go the distance, you’re more likely to end up as friends than enemies with these habits.
Christine is a lifestyle coach living in Los Angeles. Using systems, routines, and some psychological trickery, she can help almost anyone hack their mind and life for greater productivity. Email email@example.com to find out if she's available for one-on-one work.