Would you believe it when somebody in a relationship says she never fights with her partner? Of course not! Fighting is a natural part of being in a relationship, no? Still, some people believe that we can improve the way we fight. One popular method I often hear people throw around is ‘active listening’, where one partner says what’s troubling her, emphasizing on how she feels (e.g., “When you watch TV all day, I feel ignored…”), then the other first acknowledges what has been said (e.g., “Okay, so what you’re saying is that when I watch TV all day you feel ignored…”) before responding, and so on.
Most of my friends who are happily in a long-term relationship or happily married, however, think that fighting like that is stupid (e.g., “When I hear people talking like that, it makes me want to puke…”)
So, basically, a lot of couples I know are perfectly fine with old fashioned bickering. You know, the kind of fighting where he screams (e.g., “I’ve been working all week! I DESERVE to watch TV all day, dammit!”), then she screams (e.g., “Oh, no, you don’t! Those dishes aren’t going to wash themselves!”), then both return to their corners.
What really sets apart good couples from bad couples is what happens in round two. Couples who really love each other tend to quickly shift their focus on reconciliation and finding a solution after the initial clash has passed and both have had some time to cool down (e.g., “Uh, sorry… I didn’t mean to snap, I was just tired. Look, I’ll help you with the dishes if you want to.” and “No, it’s okay. I shouldn’t have snapped either. Don’t worry about it.” and so on).
The main issue, I’m told, is that if a bit of fighting can threaten your relationship, then you have bigger problems than your partner spending too much time in front of the TV…