10 Mistakes You Probably Make When Fighting With Your Partner
Happy couples argue too. In fact, couples who do are more likely to stay together than couples who avoid facing their issues. While they may quarrel about the same things as ordinary couples, the way happy couples fight actually sets them apart from others. They choose their battles by quarreling about things that they can find solutions to rather than focusing on difficult issues. But there are also other things to be wary of when fighting with your partner.
We at Bright Side took a look at things you can avoid doing when getting into a fight with your beloved, and what you should do instead to maintain a healthy relationship with them.
1. Using gestures that dismiss your partner
Common mistake: Showing defensive body language such as crossing your arms or legs and moving or turning away from your partner can make any fight worse. Other combative gestures include those that display anger and contempt. Pointing with your index finger and wringing your hands are signs that you’re mad. Ridiculing your partner by rolling your eyes, shaking your head, or sneering can make the already sensitive situation even more hostile.
What you can do instead: Instead of crossing your arms, try facing your partner and keeping your palms facing upward. Sitting down and making eye contact may also help because they show that you’re not trying to threaten them and that you’re trying to listen. Holding hands is also a good idea when the argument has cooled off. Hugging your partner when they’re upset or crying can show that you care, but only when they’re ready to be touched by you.
2. Fighting about more than one issue at a time
Common mistake: Even though the argument started over one subject, you and your partner begin arguing about other unrelated things. It is natural to want to bring up old fights or past mistakes as “evidence” for your current fight, but it will only serve your ego and upset your partner even more. Doing so would also confuse matters, because it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to tackle a few issues at a time.
What you can do instead: Focus on just the topic at hand and resist the temptation to argue about other things. If your partner is veering toward another subject, bring the main issue back to the discussion without blatantly dismissing their points.
3. Blaming your partner
Common mistake: While it’s common to want to build a case to prove your partner wrong, pointing fingers, saying, “It was all your fault” is like prosecuting them in court. You might win the fight at that time, but lose the relationship in the end. It’s equally not helpful if you insist on only seeing their flaws but you’re unwilling to see yours.
What you can do instead: It may pay to be patient and try to understand where your partner is coming from. If you feel like they’re attacking you, it’s wise to remain calm and think of your response before coming back with one. Be open to feedback, as there might be things that both of you could improve on.
4. Giving your partner the silent treatment
Common mistake: Silent treatment is when you don’t want to communicate at all with someone, even to the point of ignoring their existence. Perhaps you do it to avoid conflict, to communicate that you’re angry, or to punish your partner. But whatever the reason, giving them a silent treatment is not healthy because you’re not opening up to discuss and resolve the issue.
What you can do instead: If you wish to remove yourself from a heated discussion, instead of being quiet and pretending they don’t exist, tell them that you need time to cool off. Make time for a discussion in the future, when both of you can talk things over rationally. And if you want them to know that you’re mad, rather than giving them the silent treatment, talk to them and tell them how you feel.
5. Not listening to their arguments
Common mistake: It’s easy to want to drown out their arguments with your own voice or want to be heard but not wanting to listen. But yelling over them or even listening only so you can use their points against them will not bring the 2 of you any closer to solving your issues. Interrupting them while they’re making their arguments to say, “You’re misunderstanding me” will leave both feeling misunderstood.
What you can do instead: Relax and don’t take your significant other’s complaints personally. Remember that their criticisms are about their needs, not yours, so you don’t have to be defensive. If they are saying something that might set you off, ask them to say it in a different way so you can understand them better. You can also adopt the “5-5-5” method, where each of you takes 5 minutes to speak while the other just listens, and then use the last 5 minutes to talk it through.
6. Fighting at the wrong place or using the wrong medium
Common mistake: Breaking into a fight in a public place, a workplace, or a parents’ home can make things even more unnecessarily sensitive. Engaging in a fight via text messages or phone calls can lead to a misunderstanding as well. After all, you might be missing some facial cues and body language that could tell you what your loved one is really feeling.
What you can do instead: The disagreement may begin in the wrong place, but you can suggest discussing the matter further later, when you 2 can have your privacy. When you feel like a fight is about to ensue while you’re on the phone or texting, it is better to ask them to meet face-to-face to talk things over.
7. Using harsh words
Common mistake: An intense fight can bring the worst out in you and make you want to curse and resort to name-calling. These are attacks that can put distance between you and your loved one and make them feel bad about themselves.
What you can do instead: Be conscious of your choice of words and monitor your own emotions. Always keep in mind what is important and think about what you could lose if you hurl insults. Remind yourself that you may feel good giving sharp jabs to your partner but it may not be worth it in the long haul.
8. Holding your relationship hostage
Common mistake: This is when you blackmail your significant other by threatening the commitment of the relationship. For example, instead of saying “I feel like you’re being cold,” you say “I can’t be with someone who is cold to me.” When in a fight, both of you will already feel pretty sensitive, and threatening your relationship will only add unnecessary drama. Your partner might feel like they don’t have the freedom to express themselves, because if they do, their relationship with you would be on the line.
What you can do instead: Be careful of how you word your sentences and avoid questioning their commitment to you when you’re arguing about something that has nothing to do with it. Remember that while your partner may be doing something that you dislike, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t be in a relationship with them. A good relationship requires good communication and giving ultimatums denies that.
9. Arguing when you’re tired or hungry
Common mistake: These are outside factors that can escalate the fight unnecessarily. Hungry bickering or fighting when you’re tired might not even come from your compatibility with your partner, and can be resolved by eating or getting some rest. One study found that people with low glucose (which comes from food) show more aggressive behavior toward their partners.
What you can do instead: Take a minute to evaluate whether you’re arguing because of a particular issue or because you’re in a state that makes you want to start a fight. If you’re exhausted, remove yourself from a tense situation and get the rest you need before discussing an issue with your partner. If you’re hungry, take a break and grab a snack first, even if you don’t feel like it.
10. Exaggerating by using words like “always” and “never”
Common mistake: By saying these words, you’re essentially telling your partner that they can’t ever do anything right and that you don’t believe they can change. They would thus feel like they shouldn’t even bother trying. These extreme words are rarely true either.
What you can do instead: Avoid using “always” and “never” when arguing, at all costs. Be specific about which situation at which time, for instance, “It upset me that you didn’t show up at our kid’s recital today like you promised.” This way, you’re not hinting that you don’t have faith in them to do better.
What else do you think you should not do when arguing with your partner? Do you have advice for what to do instead, in the heat of the moment?