Fighting with Love
Anger in relationships: When arguments can make or break your relationship
“I had been waiting for my boyfriend for more than an hour. We were supposed to go out for my birthday dinner. When he finally walked into the house, I asked him where he had been. He told me he had been with his friend. Before he could say anything else, I blew up and started shouting. I couldn’t control myself. My anger had been building up for many days over multiple small things. I yelled at him for not having any time for me. He said that it had been something urgent. I screamed back saying that his friends had always more important for him than me and that he didn’t care how I felt at all. That was when he lost his temper as well and shouted back. He said I was selfish and mean, and that I wanted him to be at my beck and call 24/7. He said he regretted the day he had met me. I broke down and started crying. It was the worst birthday of my life.”
It’s not easy to control one’s temper in a relationship, especially when we feel that our partner is treating is unfairly. When we feel ignored or taken for granted repeatedly, it can lead to angry outbursts, often with shouting and name-calling.
No matter how calm or collected one person in the relationship is, if the other ends up shouting and screaming each time there is an argument, chances are the other partner will either withdraw completely or learn to shout back. Neither of these is helpful for the relationship. Over time, the relationship suffers as the fights become worse and take over the good parts.
Although, you can’t stop fights and arguments altogether, there are ways in which you can fight fair. Implement the following fight rules to flip conflict from being destructive to constructive:
- No name-calling no matter how angry or upset you are. Try and share your feelings without stooping down to disrespect.
- Try and focus on the immediate issue or problem instead of bringing up past fights.
- If you feel at any point that the fight is escalating, one of you should suggest that you take a short break and come back to discuss the problem.
- Sit down every Friday for an hour to discuss any problems, complaints or issues that you have had with each other so that you can address them in time, before they become too big.
- Take out time to do something fun together, at least once a week, and there would be no discussion of problems during the “fun break”.
You may not be able to follow all of these rules all the time. But even if you manage to stick by most of them some of the time, at least the problems you have with each other would be out in the open, instead of simmering inside. Then, you can try and find resolutions where you can, and agree to disagree where you cannot. But you’re talking about them and that’s a good thing. That gives the relationship hope that all will be well.