A few weeks ago, I wanted to write about a fight that Collin and I had a few weeks before that. I asked him permission first, because that’s the secret to blogging about your relationship without endangering your relationship. He said he didn’t want me to write about it. I asked why. He said, “I think it makes you look bad.” “It makes ME look bad?” I shouted back. And then we had the fight all over again.
Writing about fighting with your partner is really hard. Confessing your own transgressions is hard, and sharing your partner’s might be even harder. But part of being coupled is fighting, and I think we should talk about it more.
So in that spirit, I’m hosting an anonymous comment blog party on fighting with your partner today, in the spirit of the Anonymous Comment Sex Talk Blog Party.
Let’s talk about how we fight. Do you scream at each other too much or too little? What’s the worst thing you’ve done or said in anger? Do you let yourself go to bed angry? Why is make-up sex so amazing? What other “repair” strategies do you use to recover from fights?
Some ground rules:
- Be nice.
- No judgment. [This is a more specific way of saying "be nice."]
- You do not need to be engaged, married, or in a committed relationship to join the party.
- You do not have to comment anonymously if you don’t want to.
- You are NOT allowed to impair anyone else’s anonymity.
- Any comments that violate these rules or any of the basic principles of human decency will be deleted.
- Everybody have fun tonight.
September 1, 2011 at 10:31 am
When people ask, “how’s married life?” I often say, “It’s great, when we fight I don’t assume we’re about to break up!”
Which is mostly true, except the first time we had a big fight after we got married, I totally talked about ending the marriage, and I feel terrible about that.
I think the biggest problem with my fighting style is that I escalate small disagreements or minor transgressions to matters of life or death (of the relationship).
September 1, 2011 at 10:44 am
I do, too. But my husband also does, with different small things than the small things I escalate. So, at least we each have an example of how silly a practice it is on a regular basis.
We were playing the “would you break up with me if…” (usually that sentence is completed with various hypotheticals, at different degrees of ridiculousness) game shortly after we got married, and I said, “Wait, I guess we can’t play this anymore… LET’S PLAY THE WOULD-YOU-DIVORCE-ME-IF GAME!”
September 1, 2011 at 11:18 am
I am totally the person who blows up over little things. And also, things that I should not blow up over. Like, when his parents buy us too-generous gifts, or when he is trying to cuddle too much. I feel insane sometimes, but it’s hard to keep things under control when I always think there’s a deeper meaning to things. Instead of seeing things as “nice gifts” or “being sweet,” I always turn it into “controlling our lives from afar” and “too clingy.” Oy. I exhaust myself sometimes.
I also stew a lot, and have a hard time forgiving things quickly. He, on the other hand, has a hard time apologizing, and a hard time with dealing with fights. He’d rather just walk away until it blows over. Unfortunately, the longer I let things sit unresolved, the less likely I am to let it blow over.
September 1, 2011 at 10:56 am
I only got into a lot of fights with one relationship. It was totally her fault.
But seriously. I don’t get bothered by things very often; so a typical fight was “when will you do thiiiiiis” and, you know, fuck doing that, so I said so, which led to… Automatic tears. What a tactic. Give the girl a hand! So I was the asshole, which to be fair, was probably true in the first place.
I ended up apologizing, but feeling confused as to why. It was like everything had to be perfect, and I didn’t give a shit. Perhaps this is why I am single.
September 1, 2011 at 11:11 am
I’m a crier.
I blame it on my parents (isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?). They did not scream or yell, they kept it all quiet, but my dad was so mind-f*cky quiet-mean to my mom I absorbed it all and it lives somewhere in my gut.
So, my eyes well up as soon as confrontation starts. My husband finds this infuriating – “we’re just TALKING, why are you already CRYING?” It’s awful. Its manipulative. But I can’t stop it. Luckily, we don’t have this situation too often.
Also, I might be one of the only people who does not enjoy make-up sex, or even necessarily ever have it. When I’m mad or upset, being physical is the last thing I want.
September 1, 2011 at 11:12 am
oops, I suck and being anonymous, apparently. oh well! it’s me
September 1, 2011 at 11:51 am
The last time I had makeup sex, I just started crying in the middle of it about how sorry I was about the fight, and it was ridiculously unsexy. So I am normally a huge fan, but sometimes it isn’t nearly all it is made up to be.
September 1, 2011 at 11:53 am
I am not a fan of makeup sex, either. I think my husband and I have had makeup sex maaaybe one or two times. We’re both much more into makeup cuddling, but not until things are good and resolved.
September 1, 2011 at 12:53 pm
OK I’m glad there is at least one other person who doesn’t get the whole make-up sex thing. It is seriously the last thing I want at the time.
September 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm
I’m in that same boat. I’ve never had it. Cuddling after the fight is resolved? Yes. Sex? No. I agree with the previous comment that sex is the LAST thing I want in that moment.
September 1, 2011 at 8:06 pm
Agreed! After a fight, I’m so emotionally spent I just want to retreat.
September 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm
Now I feel like I gotta come in here and defend makeup sex. Part of the reason I am a fan stems from the fact that I use sex as a stress relief tool to begin with, so ending a fight with sex is the best way to get the stress of the fight out of my system.
But there is more to it than that. A friend of mine used to talk a lot about “rose petal sex” vs. “table sex.” I think makeup sex gets the best of both worlds. It is always SO LOVING, but also highly physically charged in that table-y way.
September 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm
Oh I have no doubt it is awesome – everyone keeps saying it is so it must be – and I wish I was into it, but I guess it’s just not how I’m wired. Thought I might have been a freak of nature.
September 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm
You’re not a freak of nature. Makeup sex is only “real” for those who experience it, and not everyone does. I don’t, and thats fine!
It’s like certain people who would never, ever find shopping to be therapeutic, or find dressing sexy for a night out to be liberating. We hear about those things all the time because a great number of people experience them, but they certainly aren’t universal.
And I’ll take table sex for two, please
September 1, 2011 at 7:02 pm
I don’t do makeup sex either. It’s the same as eating while crying – feeling sad just totally makes my appetite disappear. Being mad does NOT make me want to sexy you.
September 1, 2011 at 11:14 am
I have realized that I can be really manipulative in arguments, and can turn nearly any issue around to take the blame off me (and often this means diverting attention to some minor issue that is tangentially related to the core issue we’re fighting about). I’m not proud of this. It’s shitty.
I also tend to get really angry over little things and end up screaming about ultimately silly things to lose my temper about. That said, my husband has a tendency to brush off my minor complaints, even when they are symptoms of a bigger root problem, which tends to make me angrier. This, however, does not excuse my temper.
I am learning to take a step back, take it down a few notches, and try to have a productive conversation instead of just shutting down and shirking responsibility for my actions. It’s hard, and it’s something I’ve been working on for a long time. Sometimes I feel like I make a lot of progress, and then one bad day can take me right back to all of my bad habits. But we don’t stay mad as long anymore, and our fights no longer feel like the end of the world, which is progress in itself.
September 1, 2011 at 11:34 am
My husband and I don’t fight. We actually spent a week stressing out about this because, during pre-marital counseling, the priest who was to marry us told us at one point, “And next week we’ll talk about how you fight!” We went home and tried to remember times we’d fought, and came up with very few examples. C is really good at diffusing difficult situations, and so often tension gets released as laughter, or loving teasing.
That said, my challenge is working on speaking up when there IS something wrong. I have a tendency to repress, repress, repress, and then break down and cry about something silly. C is good at picking up the signals that I’m not speaking up if something’s bothering me; I need to be better at that myself, though. Similarly, when we have children, I want to model a relationship for them that includes visible disagreements as well as visible affection and tenderness. I sometimes think that my parents were too reserved on both counts with my and my brother.
September 1, 2011 at 11:35 am
Oh! And one more thing: I’m able to let go of disagreements with my husband incredibly easily, but not so with fights with friends. Man oh man, can I hold a grudge. I never want this to enter my marriage, and I know I need to work on letting go of this in friendships. But it’s so easy to stew!
September 2, 2011 at 6:23 am
Whoa, are we the same person?? This is exactly how I am! I tend to not express anger when I feel it, because I don’t want to blow up at my fiance. If I wait until I cool off, I can usually either talk about it with him reasonably, or realize that it wasn’t that big a deal anyway. But he can always tell when I’m upset about something.
September 1, 2011 at 11:48 am
My fiance and I *almost* never fight, the few times that we have it’s been after we’ve both been drinking and some imagined slight that one of us did to the other. We both tend to sink into silence and stew. He gets upset over something I’ve said and I won’t know about it until about 1/2 an hour later after he’s been quiet and weird and I’m wondering what the heck I did. Then we talk it out – or cry it out in my case. I could probably count the actual fights we’ve had on one hand though. Thankfully. We do have good communication and are able to talk through things and hash them out. We are both focused on conflict resolution. Which I am VERY thankful for. This will be my second marriage (first one was very fraught with verbal abuse & attempted physical abuse), and I am so thankful to be marrying someone so different. I think the fact that we’re both over 30 and have had time to grow up and realize what is truly important is a huge factor in the way we deal with conflicts in our relationship.
September 1, 2011 at 12:17 pm
I’m single, but got in a fight recently with a male friend when we were on a trip that’s pretty typical of relationship fighting (for me.) Most of the fight was due to the fact that we had spent 12 days straight together with no break and so were sort of desperate for time away and finding each other irritating no matter what. Then it was the last day of vacation so we were depressed. Then we were drinking. It’s an excellent combination.
Anyhow, I got mad about something, he tried to first ignore that I was mad, and then when that didn’t work just joke me out of it. I thus felt that my feelings were being diminished and was even more mad. So then I cried (I am also one of those semi-automatic criers, even when I don’t want to be crying), we sort of yelled at each other about respecting one another’s moods and feelings and opinions, and apologized. This was all around our other friend also traveling with us. It took about 15-20 minutes from initial being pissed off to yelling and resolution. And then he bought us all churros. Churros are a way better post-fight resolution than make-up sex, IMO.
September 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm
When we start fighting, my instinct is to get out. Like, physically remove myself from the situation. Because that’s the only way I feel I can prevent myself from saying or doing things to make the situation worse. But me leaving hurts my husband so much, it’s pretty much the worst thing I can do.
One thing that is really scary is thinking back to a fight we had only a couple months into our relationship. I was going to leave, and he said, “don’t walk out on me now.” I didn’t. I think that if I did we would have broken up, and I wouldn’t have the awesome marriage I have now. Terrifying.
September 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm
I have this instinct too. I have never acted on it, but half of the effort of most fights for me is reminding myself, “You are not allowed to leave. Running away from a problem will not actually solve it.” But MAN do I wish it did. :-/
September 5, 2011 at 12:43 am
I think I’ve saved my relationship many times by walking out on a fight when I needed to. It took a long time to convince my fiance that this was something I needed to do; I don’t argue well, and if I’m not allowed to take a few minutes alone to calm down and regain some perspective, things will get very, very ugly. But, like almost everything, I’m sure this doesn’t work for every relationship.
September 1, 2011 at 12:59 pm
we almost never fight, and sometimes I think we should try fighting more often, or more intensely. what we usually do is just disagree and have a discussion about it, there’s no yelling or throwing things.
I am like another anon above, in that I repress repress repress, mostly the little things, and then I have a complete meltdown over something not that serious. I cry at the most inopportune moments. If I work really hard to hold back tears, it all comes out later anyway, and then he’s just more confused why I’m sobbing my eyes out over nothing. I am working on not repressing things, and he is getting better at seeing that I’m harboring some feelings.
sometimes I get frustrated with the whole “use I language” and being Nice and Fair and all that. it’s good for not having damaging fights, but sometimes i just feel censored and like I’m not able to get my feelings across because I feel all this pressure to be really nice about telling him that this thing he does drives me bonkers. of course if he was mean to me about something I do that’s annoying, I would not take it well At All, so, not like I think we should take the gloves off. I just need to figure out how to express myself honestly, but with compassion. And also, to take criticism.
September 1, 2011 at 1:23 pm
also, I do not respond well to yelling, at all. sometimes my husband will raise his voice and sort of shout out some frustration, and even if it has nothing to do with me and he’s not directing it at me at all (“argh, this [thing] makes me SO MAD!”), I feel shaken and want to run away.
September 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm
We suck at fighting. We do things you’re not supposed to do. We yell. We back ourselves into ridiculous and unsupportable positions and then stick to our guns. I have been known to make unfair comparisons to exes who were particularly important in our lives (I seriously recommend NOT doing this; it’s not okay).
We’re not post-argument make-up sex people. At least I don’t think we are? We once were joking about the constant stream of make-up sex that Sookie and Bill had during the first two seasons of True Blood. “We never have hot make-up sex,” I complained. “Why do we have to have the fight to have sex? Can’t we just skip that part?” he countered. He has a point.
He tends to retreat to his own corner and acts like we’ve discussed, yelled, discussed and that’s that. I tend to need a cuddle to know that we’re back on track. We’ve actually gotten into new fights because I figured we weren’t done yet since we hadn’t hugged and made nice. I’m getting better about asking for the post-argument snuggles that I need.
Neither of us had great role models for fighting. My parents never fought in front of us and their divorce came as a huge shock to all of us kids. His dad and stepdad were both dictatorial and domineering, so while he’s really mild-mannered and sweet as pie normally, he defaults to my-way-or-the-highway, which doesn’t work AT ALL with me.
On the other hand, we generally agree about most things, and usually have productive fights that end in an agreement and resolution.
September 1, 2011 at 1:11 pm
I have a temper, he does not. I am ok with fighting, it makes him very uncomfortable. One of the ways he likes to try to diffuse the situation whenever I bring something up is to smile. I realize that being able to diffuse a fight is actually a very important skill in a marriage and I’m supposed to respond in kind to his attempt – but it actually has the opposite effect on me when done this early in a fight. I feel like I am not being taken seriously and like I don’t have room to get out my frustrations, which makes me blow up more. That then makes him shut down and ugh… this is what happens when you have two very different styles of solving conflict.
I feel like I have gotten better. I have started to realize that I need to slow down and not get so hyped up, because it overwhelms him and doesn’t get us anywhere. Of course, sometimes my temper still gets the best of me, but it feels good to know I can get better at this over time.
September 1, 2011 at 1:20 pm
We don’t really fight either. I feel like fighting is one of those areas people get super judgey about if it’s different than how their relationship is, which is annoying. We’re just not fighters. The only time we fight is when I take out things on my husband that have nothing to do with him, and then he’ll leave me alone for a while, and then I’ll cool off and go find him and apologize. I’m working on doing that less since it really isn’t fair to him, but it doesn’t happen too much anyway.
Now that I think about it, I’m not sure if my husband has ever gotten significantly upset with me about something to initiate a fight.
September 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm
I’m the emotional one and my husband is the rock, so if we’re fighting, it’s because of something that got me upset. He just doesn’t let anything bother him. It’s how he’s built and it’s also the reason we work as a couple. He diffuses me (to a point).
If I’m upset, I will give the silent treatment like whoa. Fortunately (unfortunately?), I can NOT go to bed angry, so it usually ends in me crying and forcing him to talk it out. Sometimes I’m justified, sometimes I’m not. Of course, I can only think of examples of the former.
September 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm
I have only gone to bed angry a few times, mostly because my husband got so tired he literally could not stay awake until the resolution of the fight. I HATE IT. If I ever do get to sleep, I have horrible dreams and have a sadness hangover in the morning.
So I try my damnedest to not go to bed angry, and I am sure there are some fights that have been resolved much more quickly than they would have otherwise been because of their proximity to bedtime. Like, “(yawn) Wait, you know what? I was totally wrong! “
September 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm
This seems so appropriate, since last night we got into a fight (which has been resolved). The good thing about being together longer is that we’ve learned out to fight with each other. Sounds crazy, but we’ve learned what makes a fight productive and what is just making it worse.
Unfortunately, we are both not very good at fighting. I (even though I am getting better) fight to win; I am stubborn and hate losing. My partner is kinder and more likely to apologize first. I often will not let go of the fight even if I’m no longer mad and just want to hug it out. I won’t make the first move, and even after that I am very apprehensive to give in. He is also a little melodramatic. He often asks, are we breaking up?/ Should I look for a new apartment? Which drives me crazy because we’re fighting about who cleaned the bathroom last (not really, but just an example)!
The good news is that through learning how to fight better, we are able to anticipate what might cause a fight. For example, he hates when I cry (I can’t help it! I’m a crier and hormones enhance this problem!!) which makes me even more upset! So if I’ve had a rough day, I’ll shoot him a text that says, I need a hug and a good cry before we can talk about what we’re eating for dinner. This seems to work most of the time. Most importantly is communicating.
When I feel myself digging my heels in, sometimes I often ask for some time alone. This is so important for me. If I have 15 minutes to wash the dishes, take a shower, or read my book – do anything to give myself a break- I am often not mad and don’t care anymore when we come back to finish the fight.
I believe that going to bed angry is totally fine. Staying up until midnight so that I can fight and say mean things (that I don’t mean) seems like a waste of sleep to me! If we fight and go to bed, when I wake up in the morning the first thing that I want is him, not to win the fight.
September 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm
Yeah, we’re another couple that doesn’t “fight” that much. Which is not to say that we don’t have disagreements, they just never really escalate due to a lot of factors:
-We’re both pretty sensitive types to begin with.
-We both came from homes where yelling was not common (therefore we have that association of raised voices with “oh god something TERRIBLE is happening!”)
-We talk about our feelings a LOT.
-I’m also a semi-automatic crier (love that term), and so my brain usually “blows that fuse” before I do any verbal damage.
There are obviously lots of good sides to this, but the downsides tend to happen when we haven’t been able to get anywhere discussion-wise and are now sitting around making angry grunting/sighing noises, not sure how to proceed.
“We’re not very good at this, are we?”
“I guess not.”
September 1, 2011 at 4:18 pm
My boyfriend and I have really different fighting styles and we’ve had a hard time reconciling them. He’s the silent-treatment, stewing type, and I’m the I’m-going-to-cry-but-let’s-get-it-all-out-there type. It’s led me starting some fights in an attempt to get him to tell me what’s wrong.
What’s harder is that he is uncomfortable with conflict, so the minute the fight is over, he’s over it and wants everything to be lovey-dovey and happy. I’m comfortable with conflict, and also reeeaaallly emotional. So when the fight is over, it takes me a little while to stop being mad, even though intellectually I know it’s over. I need some time alone to come down from it. So, he’s ready to cuddle, and I want to go in the bedroom and close the door. Whew. It’s tough.
September 1, 2011 at 7:14 pm
The worst thing I ever said was in regards to a proposal. In one fight, I said every “shit or get off the pot” aphorism ever. Including “BE A MAN! STEP UP TO THE F***ING PLATE!” Didn’t result in a proposal.
One bad thing I do, which I have never done before, is want to laugh at whatever he is saying. Sometimes I can’t help but bark a snarky laugh in the “Yeah, right” vein. Not good. Mostly I can keep it to a snarly face that hopefully does not look like I find his needs and emotions amusing.
The one problem is that I come from a yelling, screaming, pounding the dashboard background – I always felt like I had to yell to be heard. He comes from a calmly discuss the differences background – so when I yell it really unnerves him.
I also have a REALLY hard time finding a middle ground. Either I don’t want to say anything because I think it’s not a big deal, or it’s Momma Goes Nuclear. So I tend to let stuff stew, which I absolutely hate like nothing else on earth.
September 2, 2011 at 8:44 am
When we were fighting about getting engaged, I told my husband that the fact that he hadn’t proposed by now meant that he clearly didn’t care at all about my feelings or respect me and that I wasn’t sure if I would say yes. It was bad. He eventually proposed and I said yes, but I’m still really angry about it and don’t like to talk about it because I get upset.
September 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm
Oh man, I’m so glad to hear that other people argue about getting engaged. Every few months I’m like “If you don’t want to marry me don’t string me along, JUST SAY SO” and he’s like “Chill out I do want to but I’M NOT READY YET.” (We are 24, together for 5 years.) Good to hear that this doesn’t automatically to doom us to, well, doom.
As for fighting style, we’re pretty good when we have an actual serious disagreement (as above)– we’re both trained in conflict resolution and can keep an even keel when it comes to the big stuff. However, I need a lot of alone time and snap at him when I don’t get it. I’m working on that. In the meantime, he’s learned to leave the room.
September 1, 2011 at 9:51 pm
I’m a jerk when we fight. I say really cruel things just to hurt my spouse, and then I immediately feel like a jerk. I’m trying to fix this.
I realized recently, after my spouse pointed it out, that I’m a cranky person. I’m just crabby or stressed out or tired or hungry all the time, and I take it out on him in the worst way. After a series of really awful, generally public fights that I started, we had the worst fight of our entire marriage, one of those, “OMG we might not actually be able to make this work” fights. So I’m working on managing my stress and controlling myself and not getting needlessly tense or crabby, or saying before I get crabby, “I’m feeling crabby” which gives my husband better warning than if I just say nothing and then explode at him. When my husband is acting crabby, rather than getting tense and passive aggressive, and I ask why he’s acting crabby. It’s helping. Some.
September 2, 2011 at 10:52 am
This is gonna sound dumb, but I always feel left out when people talk about fighting with their spouse/partner, or when they enthuse over makeup sex.
I don’t know how to explain what it is we do in our unhappier moments, but I don’t think it could be called fighting.
September 2, 2011 at 12:39 pm
Right there with you. Me and my guy are both super introverted and avoid conflict if it can at all be avoided and so when one of is stressed about our relationship all that really ends up happening is things just feel really tense and ‘off’ somehow and for some reason I lose the ability to even make eye contact with him and then eventually one of us might say something to vaguely articulate the problem, we hug a lot and call it done. Unfortunately I think it’s usually not done and we’re not really resolving things so we need to work on that. My family does not fight at all and just keeps everything in so that has translated to my relationship with my boyfriend. I don’t think I could point to a single time we had a ‘fight.’ Instead it’s more ‘periods of tension.’
September 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm
I frustrate the hell out of my partner when we’re fighting, because I have a hard time getting words out. I just sit there and think. He hates it. And tends to use it against me when I bring up “I wish you asked more about X” or “I wish you were more sympathetic about Y.” “I AM sympathetic, you just don’t talk! And I can’t sit there for ten minutes waiting for you to say something!” Yarr. This is something I am still currently mad about, clearly, so maybe I should stop talking about the way we fight.
One good thing we do is after we’re done fighting, we list things we like and things we love about each other. I find this really hard. When I’m done with a fight, I usually don’t like or love my partner. But forcing myself to slowly remember that I do helps a lot.
September 2, 2011 at 1:17 pm
Yeah I’m the other side of that coin – my husband needs A LOT of time of process when we fight and just sits quietly for what feels like an eternity. I am the opposite. I just spew my feelings all over the freaken place and really don’t stop to think, so waiting for him to respond can be excruciating. I think it’s just going to take practice on both our parts – and me not allowing myself to get quite so worked up to begin with.
September 2, 2011 at 6:08 pm
I know intellectually that the occasional knock-down drag-out is necessary, even healthy, for a relationship. That said, I DO NOT react well to fighting in a relationship. This goes for romantic relationships as well as close friendships. It’s somewhat ironic, because I come from a very loud, opinionated, fighty family…or maybe that has something to do with it? I wouldn’t call myself non-confrontational and I’m quite strong-minded and stubborn at times, but I really have a history full of non-fighting relationships. I can probably count the real fights, anything that involved shouting or anger or non-productive behavior (which is what I qualify as fighting and maybe on everybody does) on one hand, and my relationship history is bucking on a decade and a half at this point.
I never really thought about it before, but I think this also might be attributable to one of two things.
1) I tend to have dated (maybe even sought out?) people who don’t fight as a gut reaction, and I react/adapt to that. Now, this is by no means a positive comment on my own taste, because I’ve dated some real losers, let me tell you, but oddly I haven’t dated too many losers who fight. They’ve just, like, gambled. Or cheated. But an awful lot of them have been extraordinarily communicative, and good at talking things through with anger in check, and I respond in kind. My last boyfriend absolutely led in this, and actually taught me quite a bit in terms of communication.
2) If I date someone who tends toward fighting/anger, I purposely try to balance it. This is harder for me. I dated one guy who had quite a temper, and was unreasonable in the face of anger sometimes, and I often had that damn crying reaction (I HEAR YOU LADIES), but then I would just pull back and try to bring the conversation back to reason and no anger. If that didn’t work, and sometimes it wouldn’t, I’d withdraw, literally leave, and we’d talk about it later.
I just don’t like fighting. I don’t like raised voices or anger or anything that veers on the edge of oh my god one of us is going to say something hurtful that we’ll regret. I react very, very badly to it; I feel my blood pressure rise and I’ll even start to shake, and I’d like to say that it’s because I realize that sometimes it’s counterproductive, but I think it’s far more an emotional reaction than anything else. I find it scary. I feel like someone or something will get broken (and I have no history of abuse or anything like that). I hear couples fighting sometimes, really shouting and attacking each other, and I just think that, no matter how good the relationship is otherwise, I could never be in a relationship where that way of working things out is standard — and it probably does work for some people. I just don’t understand it and can’t handle it.
September 5, 2011 at 9:17 pm
I have a really hard time with this, and I have no idea how to handle it. Mostly, he’s bad at fighting. Or, having a heated discussion. He’s super stubborn and if someone tells him to do something it immediately makes him want to do the opposite. So, I’m reluctant to mention to him things that I want changed or bother me. I’m worried ahead of time about being shut out.
From his side, he just doesn’t bring things up. He ignores them, or stores them up, so I worry that I might be pissing him off with something and just have no idea because he won’t mention it until it’s too big of a problem.
And then in little things, if I start to argue and misunderstand something he said, or need something repeated or clarified, he decides to not deal with it, and just says “yep, I agree with you”. Which is possibly the worst.
Rereading, this sounds like it’s all his faults, which is certainly not true. But also is true, because he never really lets us get to the point where we can fight, so we don’t know how to, and that makes me worried.
September 7, 2011 at 7:52 am
So, my partner and I fight a lot more now than we did early on in our relationship. It is largely a good thing. Neither of us feels that we must sacrifice *all* preferences or opinions in order to save the relationship. Maybe he never felt that way, but in the first year or two, it was 100% how I felt. Sort of, “We can talk about this and risk it, or I can simply learn to deal and stay in this relationship.”
So, now we fight sometimes. Usually it is because I care about stuff that he doesn’t care about or vice versa. Some variation on money management or housework or balancing time for work, socializing and us. It isn’t ultra common, but context matters more than it ideally should. We’ll fight more in bad weather, if hungry, if generally dissatisfied with an external situation. (Just like my own classic transference of feeling fat when my writing isn’t going well.)
Our fight style involves very little yelling. That’s super rare. We do lose hours of sleep or productivity when we fight though because we’re both talkers. One disagreement leads to two or three hours of hashing out specific incompatibilities or moments of thoughtlessness. Urgh. My non-fighty self wants to make us, “Keep it relevant, People!”
Makeup sex is not common. Makeup cuddles are more the norm. If I’ve been upset and he hasn’t been upset then there’s a chance for comfort sex. That’s deliciously nice, but very different.
All in all, I’m pretty okay with how we manage conflict. Over the years we’ve figured some stuff out.