We talk a lot about love languages but what I think is equally important is how you fight. When you and your partner come into some kind of conflict, what kind of defense mechanisms do you have? How do you cope with the stressful feelings? Do you fight back, do you shut down, do you walk away, do you talk it out? When you fight are you mad or are you sad? Are you frustrated or are you stressed out? What we want our fighting style to be and what our fighting style is can be two different things.
Generally when I encounter some kind of disagreement my first instinct is to shut the fuck up and not say anything else until I figure out what I did wrong or what my partner did wrong. Then I either go into full apology mode because I hate feeling like I’m the cause of conflict or I go into full explanation mode because I hate making you feel bad and I know you didn’t mean it! This isn’t always super useful, or effective. Simply apologizing might not reach the core of the problem, and it might not save me from making that same mistake again. Telling someone “I know you didn’t mean it, it’s okay!” prevents you from breaking down into the real reason why that thing hurt you. Those conversations are the absolute worst, but if you want to be a better partner, you have to have them.
This is why my ideal fighting language is I FEEL LIKE I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT WENT WRONG HERE, IF YOU’LL ONLY WAIT A MOMENT PLEASE, I WILL GRAB A PIECE OF PAPER AND WRITE IT DOWN. Because I am total shit at processing in the moment. I’m one hundred a fifteen thousand percent better in writing. Five days later. Six days later. A month later. Way past the point of the disagreement being over and settled a little lightbulb comes up over my head. And suddenly I realize two things, simultaneously. We’re both right. We’re always both right. Because when it comes to feelings, we all get the right to feel the way we feel. The problem is we weren’t able to articulate those feelings in a meaningful or useful way.
There is no perfect way to predict the outcome when two people are disagreeing. In love languages, you can foster love and support by giving and receiving love in certain ways. If you know how your partner fights, or if you’re aware of how you fight, it might just make you more cognizant of the particular way shit is going to fly.
Knowing how you fight and how your partner fights can help you develop a stronger connection. Being aware of what your partner is sensitive about is very important. Being aware of what you’re sensitive about is very important. There are many things that I am sensitive about that I’m sure I am not aware of (in which case, how could my partner know?) and those things might lead to future disagreements.
Mood and environment is also important. Does your partner look like they’re ready to discuss a point of conflict with you right now? No? Could the decision to have this conversation right now potentially spiral into hell? Do you like sleeping on the couch? Pick your moments. Avoid the voice screaming in your gut that says MAYBE IF WE HAVE THIS CONVERSATION RIGHT NOW IT’LL JUST BE OKAY I MEAN I’M FEELING REALLY EMOTIONAL LETS JUST GET IT OUT THERE. Choosing the right moments to talk about conflict is important. Phrasing is important. Avoiding physical and emotional abuse is the most important.
Alas, in disagreements, there is a bit of self-preservation. Imagine your argument as an archeological dig. You’ve discovered .05% of these bones. You have no idea what this monster is yet. Just keep gently digging and maybe you’ll make a cool discovery.
Then self preservation kicks in – CAN’T YOU SEE THAT’S A MOTHER FUCKING MAMMOTH ARE YOU BLIND LOOK JUST STAND OVER HERE, THERES THE TUSK, ITS A MAMMOTH. I mean, dude. Keep dusting it off and let it prove to you that it’s a dead mammoth.
Avoid the mammoth in the room at all costs.
Self-preservation in a couple is not about protecting yourself and your self-righteous “but I didn’t mean to!” Self-preservation in a couple is about making sure you’re both heard and understood so you can become better, together.
Keep fighting the good fight if it’s worth it.
If you’re unable to fight, are developing unhealthy arguments, cannot learn or move forward together, IDK. Sorry everything sucks.
This post in dedication to my boyfriend.
We aren’t upset often, but when we are, we always come out the other side together.
And in dedication to all of my friends who have shared their thoughts on fighting over the course of the last two months. May your fights be two way streets always ending at ice cream parlors, not fiery roundabouts, with the air conditioning broken, in the middle of summer, in a foreign country, on the wrong side of the road.
I’m… I’m just gonna hit publish now.