How to Fight Less and Love More in 4 Steps
Love isn’t always easy. Even the strongest of relationships fall victim to fighting. Luckily, there are proven steps you can take to reduce fighting and increase love.
Introspection prevents outbursts
Anger is easy to misdirect. When we’re upset, and want to let those emotions out, we aren’t always careful who we take those emotions out on. Imagine that you had a terrible day at work. Your boss screamed at you without good reason. While you wanted to shout back, it wasn’t worth risking your job. On the way home, traffic is terrible and it seems like everybody is purposefully trying to make your drive last too long. Finally, you get home and decide to watch some television to unwind. The remote is nowhere to be found and you shriek at your significant other. Why do they always lose the remote? Reacting to your outburst, he tells you to stop being overdramatic. The fighting continues.
Philosopher Marcus Aurelius once wrote, “How much more harmful are the consequences of anger and grief than the circumstances that aroused them in us!” You were angry about your boss and the traffic. Although it may have felt like it in the moment, you weren’t that concerned about the remote. It was simply the cherry on top of a terrible day. But that caused an avalanche and all the frustration from the day landed on your undeserving boyfriend. Introspection, examining your inner emotions and thoughts, is the first step in preventing unnecessary fights. You are in charge of identifying your problems and the proper reactions. Before starting a fight with another person, ask yourself if the real conflict is inside you.
Talk meaningfully and more
Speaking frequently with someone has endless benefits and we’ll concentrate on two here. The best part of conversations is that they give you the opportunity to get to know each other more deeply and better understand each other. In the remote fight, your partner called you overdramatic. Had he known your abusive father always called your mother that, he would have known to avoid that phrasing. Another advantage of your increased talking is that you can catch small problems before they grow into larger ones. As Seneca stated in Moral Letters, “Every emotion is at first weak. Later it rouses itself and gathers strength as it moves along -it’s easier to slow it down than to supplant it.” Catch issues when they first arise.
Determine the purpose of the conversation
Conversations happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we’re just making small talk, but other times there is something specific we want out of a conversation. According to Relationship Expert Dr. Terri Orbuch, males tend to enjoy giving “instrumental support,” while females like providing “emotional support.” It can be important to know what the other person wants out of a conversation. If your significant other is looking for advice, and you aren’t supplying any, it can leave him frustrated. He was seeking “instrumental support.” Similarly, if you are looking to vent, and your partner is giving advice without acknowledging your emotions, you end up feeling misunderstood. Something as simple as warning your partner that you want to vent, or specifically asking for advice, can guide conversations and prevent fights.
Fight the right way
Sorry to break it to you, but fights aren’t completely avoidable. The good news is that there are ways to make them go smoother. In arguments, try to quickly move away from “what happened” to “how did it make you feel and why?” Semantics will prolong fights without accomplishing much. It’s more important to focus on emotions. In Difficult Conversations: How to discuss what matters most, the authors explain, “Engaging in a difficult conversation without talking about feelings is like staging an opera without the music. You’ll get the plot, but you’ll miss the point.” Concentrate on why an event is important, rather than recreating every detail. If you fight the right way, you can have that fight once, rather than having the same argument over and over again.
Following these steps will take effort, but in the long run they will prevent endless fights. Life is too busy to spend precious time arguing with people you care about. Let’s eliminate time spent fighting and focus on the love.
Enroll in our Fight less. Love More Program to learn more important steps.
By Carlos Todd, PhD