When Couples Fight
This article applies also to those not currently in a relationship.
My husband and I had a fight over the weekend – on our date night, of all nights. We rarely fight, so when emotions escalated to shouting, I knew something had to change. I had to change. There was something to be learned here.
The thing about when couples bicker is that both people feel that they are right. Both people feel that their point of view is rightfully justified. So we try to make the other person understand. When we are arguing, what we are essentially trying to do is to show the other person our side – to show them that we are right (and they are wrong).
After all was said and done, underneath the problem on the surface, what we were really fighting for was to feel appreciated and validated. We, each in our own indirect way, were trying to let the other person acknowledge us, and to value what we contribute. But sometimes, we can be so stubborn.
If you dissect all the fights we’ve had in the past with our significant others, and through observing our friends, I think the desire to feel appreciated and recognized is a common theme.
What’s interesting is that in the heat of “battle”, when we are so consumed with wanting the other person to see our side, we become blind to recognizing the other person’s point of view – which is equally valid and understandable. It’s like trying to put out fire with more fire, you will just end up with a bigger fire.
In every argument, there are two sides to every story. It is highly likely that both parties are partially wrong, and both parties are partially right. And if both people continue to argue for their side, there will be no end to it. There will be no peace, no resolution.
But if one person, puts their own need to feel right on pause for just a few minutes, and sees how painful it must be for the other person, and genuinely apologizes for the hurt they may have unintentionally caused, then a miraculous shift takes place between them.
The other person will realize that they too were wrong, and likely apologize as well. When they do, the energy between them shifts from that of resentment and misunderstanding and hurt to that of love and forgiveness and generosity. When that happens, the love in our hearts expands to a realm beyond us, leaving us feeling a blissful sense of peace.
Admitting that we were wrong can feel as bad as pulling our own teeth. And when we do, it requires an internal fight with our ego to overcome our natural urge to retaliate and defend for our side. But it is possible to make a conscious decision of setting our egos aside – this may require biting our tongues, and nodding our heads in agreement though.
Photo by Nathiya Prathnadi
If we truly become the observer, we will see that, in a way, the other person is right – at least partially right. There is something we can learn here. And it really doesn’t matter if they see our side. Our job is to bring love in to situations and to empower ourselves, and those around us. To learn from life.
I came to the realization that “I don’t care to be right anymore. The argument is over something from the past. Why am I constantly trying to bring this unhappy state from the past into my present? And into my future? Why am I creating a future that causes myself suffering?“
Like a light bulb going off in my head, I began to soften up, and began to relax.
When I relaxed, I forgave, and released something from the past, which I’ve held on to so tightly over the past year. This belief -this story- that I’ve held on to, was the source of much pain, which I’ve created for myself. And now, I’ve set it free. I set myself free.
Here are some quotes from Dr. Wayne Dyer from his book Excuses Begone! that seem appropriate to this topic:
“You hear people say this all the time: “I have a right to be upset because of the way I’ve been treated. I have a right to be angry, hurt, depressed, sad, and resentful.” Learning to avoid this kind of thinking is one of my secrets for living a life of inner peace, success, and happiness.”
“At the root of virtually all spiritual practice is the notion of forgiveness. Think about every single person who has ever harmed you, cheated you, defrauded you, or said unkind things about you. Your experience of them is nothing more that a thought that you carry around with you. These thoughts of resentment, anger, and hatred represent slow, debilitating energies that will disempower you. If you could release them, you would know more peace.”
“A peaceful person attracts peaceful energy. You won’t know God unless you’re at peace, because God is peace. Your resentments literally send God out of your life while you’re busy being offended.”
“You practice forgiveness for two reasons: to let others know that you no longer wish to be in a state of hostility with them and to free yourself from the self-defeating energy of resentment. Send love in some form to those you feel have wronged you and notice how much better you feel.”
Sometimes, when we hit rock bottom, or fall into a dip in our journey through life’s turbulences, there isn’t anywhere else to go but up. Instead of treating these experiences as the enemy, as something that you “hate”, remember that these situations are there to help us wake up.
These experiences are there to teach us something we have yet to learn. These moments are blessings that we have yet to realize. These moments are the turning points of our life, towards something more profound, and valuable, and beautiful.
In summary, here’s what I’ve learned:
- I don’t care to be right anymore. I don’t care if another sees my side. It doesn’t matter. It’s all in the past now. Let’s focus on the now and the future.
- In all challenges, no matter how justified I feel, always come back to myself by asking, “What can I learn from this situation? What lessons am I supposed to learn that I have yet to recognize? What did I learn about myself?”
- Writing my thoughts down when these challenges happen is a great way to not only get to know myself in more depth, but also help to relieve resentment and pain. Writing in my journal is my best medicine.
- Talking about it to others from the point of complaining and victim identity only prolongs the story, and causes us to remain in the mode of helplessness. But never the less, talking about it to a neutral party helps to relieve some of the bundled-up energy, and may help us find clarity. I recommend finding a counselor who is trained to listen and direct you towards a mindful resolution.
- Our opinion about someone (or some situation) colors our perception of them, and projects upon them a story, which makes the story become true for us. This projection changes our interaction with that person, making it appear more real to us. For example, if we believe that someone doesn’t like us, we will start to look for evidences of that person not liking us. As we know, what we seek, we shall find. We project upon this person that they dislike us, and we repeat that belief in our head, and it becomes true for us. In reality it’s only an idea in our own head, and not actually true.
- Telling someone you’ve forgiven them, but still complaining for what they “did to you” is not true forgiveness. You’ve only done so superficially. This hard feeling will continue to linger until you can truly forgive them and stop talking about the story.
- Forgiveness can be a multi-layered process. Don’t kick yourself if you can’t do it in one sitting. It can take time. Take as much time as you need. Follow the flow of life. Know that when you are suffering, there are more forgiving to be done.
- Communication is vitally important in any relationship – not just in romantic ones. It’s important to setup time regularly to communicate, to share openly about your feelings, thoughts, unhappiness, worries, joys, dreams, hopes. For couples who live together, it’s important to do this instead of falling into the routine of crashing on the couch and watching TV all night. Even if sharing time means 10 minutes every day before bed. Make it a priority.
- For couples with kids, it is important to commune as a couple and spend quality time together, focused on each other. Schedule date nights, even if it’ll cost money to find a sitter, or that you have to trade baby sitting with another couple. Your relationship is the nest in which your children lie in. Your relationship is the foundation to which your family is built upon. How much money is that worth? Priceless, right? Make it a priority.
- Sometimes, we create busyness in our lives to avoid dealing with something that is causing us pain. We bury ourselves in our work, or direct our attention in the solving of someone else’s problems, in order to avoid dealing with a problem in our own life. No worries if you recognize this. We do this unconsciously, and it happens to all of us. Be brave. Make a conscious effort to address the root problem, this will make us feel so much lighter and free. We can actually end up happy (imagine that!).
I love you guys. Thank you for listening. And in case you’re curious, Jeremy and I are doing more than great now. We’re thankful for the learning and growing experience, and are closer than ever! :)
Please take a moment to let the meaning behind these words sink in. Apply what rings true to you to the best of your ability in your own lives. Learn from my mistakes and those around you. Spread joy. Life is so precious, and beautiful – and you deserve to see and experience its beauty in its full bloom.
Have a beautiful week, my friends.
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