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24 Feb 2024, Edition - 3147, Saturday

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Health & Lifestyle

Fighting Fair In A Relationship – Why It’s Important And How To Do It



It had been nearly 3 hours since my boyfriend and I had assassinated each other’s characters and blamed each other for everything wrong in the other’s life – and in the process, I’m pretty sure, damaged our vocal chords. I should have been feeling better, given that I had finally taken all my anger and frustration towards him out. I had said all that I had been wanting to say for a few days now; but the truth is, I had never felt worse. Guilt enveloped my being completely. Instead of being angry at him, like I had been before the fight, I was now only thinking about all the horrid things I had said to him. Honestly, I had even forgotten why we had fought in the first place. How had it started? I couldn’t put a finger on it. That’s how inane and meaningless the subject of my anger towards him really was.

In the days prior to the fight, I had been dealing with a whole lot of things. The pressure of work, the constant bickering with my mother over why I’m not yet ready to get married, the lackadaisical way in which I had been handling the applications for my impending post graduation. I wanted to do so much, but I had been getting in my own way and I didn’t have an outlet to let that frustration out. My boyfriend’s ‘lack of interest’ in those days, as a result of his own preoccupied state, served as the perfect catalyst to explode my already overflowing bucket of emotions.

That’s when it happened. This fight that now I could no longer even comprehend myself. All that screaming, banging of doors, walking out in anger on my part – and him, shouting back in return only to defend himself. It hadn’t been fair, I realised as I was sitting in my room sulking and waiting for him to call and apologise.

It wasn’t as though he was completely right and I was completely wrong, or vice a versa – but the way I had fought, without reason, without explanation, without warning – hadn’t been fair.

But there is a way to fight fair, even when you’re brimming with anger – and it is important that we all do so, for the sake of our relationships and for peace of mind. Here are a few ways in which I’ve learnt to do that –

1. Stop trying to allocate blame on your partner

Sounds like a cliche and it probably is, but there’s a reason for it. How many times have you played the blame game and pointed fingers at your partner without it resulting in a fight bigger than you had imagined? Probably every single time you do so. That’s because no matter who is at fault, the person being attacked is likely to retaliate and defend himself/herself first. It is human nature – if you’re being attacked your first instinct is to save yourself.

So as hard as it might seem in the moment, instead of jumping the gun and starting a screaming match, find a way to have a conversation. Sit down with your partner and if you’re in different places, call, and instead of telling him/her that they are doing a certain thing that annoys you, start with telling them how you feel. Not “you’re doing this”, but rather “I’m feeling this”. Ask if he/she agrees and if yes, what is causing them to behave that way. Together, find a way to tackle the problem if you want to sort it out.

Getting defensive and trying to portray yourself as the righteous one or even the victim will not get you too far. If you want your relationship to be a happy one, you must look at the situation objectively and understand your partner’s stance too.

2. Show some empathy

You know what you’re going through and feeling, but perhaps there is an underlying reason for your partner’s behaviour too. Maybe they’re going through a stressful time at work or dealing with a less than ideal situation with their family. It can be upsetting when you feel like he/she is not giving you as much time or being as affectionate towards you as they used to be, but try and understand why. It is possible that there is a bigger issue to tackle at the moment in his/her life. While it isn’t fair for you to be in a relationship where it’s always put on the back seat, if it is an issue that has arisen due to certain circumstances, try and understand.

A little empathy towards your partner and putting yourself in his/her shoes every now and then can save you a lot of fights and help your relationship and love grow.

3. Don’t bring up past fights

Bringing up past issues in a current fight is one of the worst things you can do. You have an issue now, but digging up older ones will only create more bitterness in an already stressful situation. You had a fight previously and assumingly you resolved it. It’s time to bury that and forget about it. If you haven’t forgotten about it and it comes up every time you have another fight, clearly it’s something that is still bothering you and needs to be dealt with properly.

While bringing up something over and over again is not healthy, resolving it and coming to a mutual understanding about an issue is important in order for you to move on entirely from it.

4. Avoid saying hurtful things even you’re angry

Not just name calling – although absolutely unacceptable, that can sometimes be excused as having been said in anger. Things about their job, family, success or lack thereof, friends – these are all more sensitive issues which are best kept segregated and out of the equation while in a fight. Stick to talking about the issue that is bothering you instead of trying to create a web of things that will later be harder to get out of or forget.

5. Accept your part in the situation

There is no way to move forward and bury an issue if either one of you are hung up on proving yourselves right. You may feel the need to do so now, but think about how it’ll help in the larger picture. You’re both part of the same team. If you’re in a relationship and putting in the effort to make it last, you both probably want it equally. So you may be angry and unwilling to listen while in the fight, but ask your rational self if you have a part to play in creating this situation too. If yes, accept and apologise for your part. There is no shame in doing that – it will only help your partner understand his bit and help resolve your fight sooner.

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