The top reasons people fight in relationships, and the top ways to end fighting in relationships.
I have been in many different dating relationships in my life, however I have only had 1 relationship, ever, that we had significant conflict, and that was only 1 time. I recently had a conversation about this with a dear friend of mine, Dr. John C Dealey. After the conversation he sent me an email asking for clarification. I thought it might be helpful to other people out there who are struggling. Struggling to make a relationship work, and struggling to make life work. The same principles apply in both instances.
I hope you can read this and get the answers you need to change the direction of your relationship as it comes to conflict. You must know, up front, that you have been living your life one way for quite some time. Change may not feel natural. Change may not come easy, but change is completely worth the effort, because a relationship that glides along is SO WONDERFUL. You will feel renewed strength in yourself. You will have a companion that loves and supports all that you do, and you will have a family that lives in peace, no matter what struggles come up.
So first, the myths of relationships and fighting: (I’m making these up as I go, if you comment on the blog I’ll add your myth here because you might be smarter than I am.)
1) If you don’t fight you don’t love each other (huge myth and a pet peeve of mine)
a. Or said another way, people that love each other fight or are required to fight
2) People that don’t fight are not like me
3) The only people that don’t fight are ones that don’t have difficult lives
So there are a few myths; help me come up with some more and I will debunk them.
A little history on JC (me) as it relates to relationships and fighting.
When I was 3 years old my dad passed away from cancer. Although I was young I remember a few things about my dad, but I never really knew him. My mom told me countless times how much she loves my dad. She would also say that he never once raised his voice to her, and that they never once fought in their relationship. I always admired this, and desired it in my relationships. I decided that I was going to have the same thing. I decided that I was never going to fight in my relationships.
When I was about 14 years old my mom remarried, and my step dad and my mom fought all the time. I did not like this. Because of this I spent the rest of my teen years finding ways to not be at home. I would literally go to my job and hang out day and night just to be away from home. This is amazing to me, because I can’t imagine that I’m the only person that would rather be at work than be at home with family that loves them. How can this be possible? How could someone rather be at work, not getting paid, but being there, and even working for free at times, rather than being in a comfortable home with people that love them. This was me, and this is exactly what I would do, because I was not happy at home.
When I was about 14 I took a self development class and the teacher became a good friend of mine. He always use an analogy of shaking a rag at a dog. We all know what happens when you shake a rag at a dog. The dog grabs the other side of the rag and fights with you. When you drop the rag, the dog might keep shaking the rag for a few seconds, but the dog quickly gets board and drops the rag as well. Think about how it applies to your relationships and the way you currently handle conflict.
Next I have a belief that I call a law. I have written about it a lot, search the blog for more.
The law of fighting:
What you fight against gets stronger. If you are fighting against your problems in your relationship, then those problems get stronger.
Lastly on my history, I became a police officer at 24 years old. I quickly learned that yelling at people can be very effective, and it also can be completely ineffective, depending on the person and the situation. Usually I would try to talk to someone like an adult human, however when that person encroached on my safety, and I felt I needed to take control immediately, I would yell, and boy would I yell. I would get in their face, nose to nose, and I would tell them instantly who was in charge and that they better change their aggression or I was going to let loose on them. Not only was this a new thing for me to do, but it really worked well, about 70% of the time. The other 30% of the time the person yelled back at me, and then the situation usually turned violent. I have to believe that if I were not a cop, and people were not afraid of the consequences of violence toward me, that it would turn to violence on a much higher percentage than 30%. I also must believe that this is exactly what goes on in relationships. One person yells, the other yells back, eventually you can’t yell any louder, and then it turns physical.
I say I must believe this, because I have never, not once, been in this situation with a significant other. Now I have been in this situation with family members and with friends, but never with a person that I was dating. There are several reasons for this, but I’ll probably not go into that now.
So now you see some of my history, as it relates to conflict in a relationship. I find it fascinating that I can be at work, and “get my way” and “protect myself” by yelling at the people that I deal with. I know that yelling at work has kept me safe on many occasions. I have seen many aggressive people confronting me and at the point that they are about to attack me or another officer, and just by getting in their face and yelling at them, they have been frightened enough to back down. I think frightened is a key word here.
I also find it fascinating that I can turn that off when I get home, and that I have a beautiful, wonderful, amazing relationship with my wife, and we have never yelled at each other.
So let’s talk about yelling and fear. I wrote a book on fear called “A cop’s guide to overcoming fear.” This book is currently being edited and I hope to get it to you soon to help you overcome some of the fears you deal with in your life. One of the reasons we start to yell is we want to frighten someone into listening to us. Wow, isn’t that interesting?
Think about the person(s) that you love, and now think about what it means if you want to scare them into doing what you want them to do. How strong and damaging is this? Why would you really want to scare someone into doing what you want? Why would you want to scare someone into understanding your point of view? Why would you feel that the strongest thing you could do next to having a physical confrontation is the only way that you can get what you need/want?
Yelling is damaging. Conflict is damaging, and when you do it, it harms your relationship. So now that we understand a little about it, lets talk a little about how to stop it. Let’s talk about how to get your way without yelling.
I hold a high standard for my relationships. I want them to function like a well oiled machine. I want them to support me, support who I am, and I want them to support the other person in the relationship. I don’t have time for less. I don’t have time to spend my life in a relationship that contains constant conflict. Life has enough mountains to climb, bring along a climbing partner that will help you climb, not one that will pull you back down the mountain.
So how do you do this? 2 things to consider. First relationships take 2 people, however, the actions of anyone in the relationship changes both people. So you can only fix yourself. You can only change yourself, however the slight changes you make will affect your partner. In other words, if you implement these changes you are about to learn in your life, then they will most likely rub off on your partner and affect the entire relationship for the better.
IF YOUR ACTIONS DON’T AFFECT THE ENTIRE RELATIONSHIP THEN ONE OF YOU IS NOT EMOTIONALLY AND PHYSIOLOGICALLY DEDICATED OR CONNECTED TO THE RELATIONSHIP. One of you is distanced from the relationship. One of you is on the way out. This is not a good place to be, and it needs immediate corrections because it is on the course to failure.
So I hope all of this background has been helpful in getting you to a place where you can learn these next steps to creating a relationship with minimal conflict and completely eliminated yelling.
I also hope that you see some hope that this is possible in your relationship. If you don’t see this hope then it may not be possible for you right now, for hope is a big key in change.
How a relationship works for me, conflict free:
Anytime you join 2 people together there will be different desires, different ideas, different dreams, different goals. All of these things create an opportunity for conflict to exist. We all want our way at times, and at times are not very willing to give up our way, and so the catalyst for conflict is born.
We have learned that we will get our way if we just push hard enough. We have learned that if we fight hard enough we will get our way. So we fight for what we want, and we say “screw what our partner wants, I’m getting my way.” We yell and scream until we get our way. UNTIL NOW. There is a better way and we are moving to that way.
The key word is proper communication. Conflict is improper negative communication. Conflict can be non verbal communication, but the key is that it is negative communication. We are eliminating that.
I have a hard time describing how I remove conflict from my relationships because it has become second nature to me. My history is when I created it, and I will do my best to tell you how I remove conflict.
When conflict arises I do 3 simple steps. That’s it, only 3.
1. I try to listen (listen to what is going on, both from my wife, and also inside of me.)
a. My emotions and inner voices will start to speak and this is what I am listening to.
2. Even when I feel like it I avoid getting upset or allowing strong negative emotion to take over my body.
a. You know what this feels like, when negative thoughts start to well up inside you and they will take control if you allow them to.
3. After the situation is over, and done, I explain to my wife what happened. I explain what she did, or what I did, and how it was damaging to our relationship. I explain how it effected me, and I propose possible solutions to not have this again.
In other words, I communicate in a positive way how to make our relationship glide like a ski on fresh snow.
This is the key to ending fighting in a relationship. We talk about the conflict. Now do we always talk about it? NO WE DON’T. The reason is because sometimes the conflict is completely 100% inside of me. Sometimes I’m the only one that needs to change. I recognize that I need to change and I start working on that. It does not always come up in our relationship. It would probably be helpful if we talked about those, but it does not always happen. However, I’m much better at talking about the things that my wife needs to change. (this is an area that I am going to start working on more)
Don’t get tricked into thinking that just because I don’t always talk about my issues that talking about it is not important.
So when the time is right, it could be while the conflict is going on, or it could be after the conflict is over, hours or days later, I will go to my wife, and I will openly discuss what the conflict did to our relationship, and what it will continue to do to our relationship it we allow the conflict to live with us.
I will try to give you an example of this and of how it works.
This is an actual issue that USED TO surface in my relationship with my wife.
I would want to do something fun, something for both of us to do together, so I would go to her and present an idea of something fun, and my idea would IMMEDIATELY get shot down. I would then come up with another idea, and again get shot down. I would present yet a 3rd idea, and get shot down a 3rd time. I would ask my wife what she wanted to do and she would say “whatever” but she did not mean “whatever” because she was shooting down every idea that I came up with.
So the stage for the conflict has been set. Have you had this same exact thing happen in your relationship? This could easily turn to yelling and a night of hating each other.
Here is what I did. I calmed my butt down. After calming down I went to my wife and I asked her a few questions. I asked if she wanted me to suggest ideas for us to do together for the rest of our relationship. She said yes. I asked her if she wanted to do things with me for the rest of our relationship. She again said yes. I asked her why she was shutting down my ideas so quickly without considering them. I then explained to her that when she knocks me down like that then I have no desire to try and find interesting fun things for us to do together. I explained how it bothered me, and I explained that it was putting us on a path where I would not feel comfortable bringing ideas to her because I would get knocked on my butt.
When I explained this she apologized profusely. In face it really bothered her. She did not realize that she was causing this issue. She wanted me to come up with ideas of things for us to do together, and she did not want me to do things without her. She totally got how I felt, and she worked hard to eliminate shutting my ideas down. She did not even realize that this was causing strain in our relationship. She did not know how strongly it was affecting me, so she could not do anything about it, until I brought it up. How could we possibly get over this issue, when she did not know it was an issue? In other words, this would of continued forever, in our relationship, if we had not resolved it. This would of been a problem that would of surfaced and caused many arguments over the years, if it had not been solved the first time it came up.
Are we now perfect? No. Did we make a situation where a conflict would of arrived and turn that situation into one where we support each other? Yes.
If I had not gone to her, then I would of felt hurt. I would of felt that she did not support me. I would of stopped presenting ideas for us to do together. I would of felt that my ideas were not as good as her ideas. I may have felt that she did not want to spend time with me or did not appreciate me. If I had not gone and spoken with her about this then our relationship, for forever, would have been on a path of conflict when it comes to me presenting ideas for us to do together. Do you get that? We would have been struggling with this same issue FOREVER. Forever is a long time.
Do you see issues that you are struggling with, and have been struggling with for a long time?
Now I believe one of the keys to this communication is analyzing how the negative situation will affect your relationship in the future, if you allow it to continue. Once you see how it is really affecting you, it is very desirable to remove it from the relationship so that the worst possible outcome does not happen, in other words, so that it is not a part of your relationship forever.
What are some of your thoughts on this topic? If you ask questions it will probably help me to job my memory in the different ways and tools I use to eliminate conflict from my relationships, so if you are struggling with conflict in your relationships please ask and I’ll respond.
Lastly, the biggest reason I don’t fight in relationships is..
I have been extremely selective and also blessed with companions in my relationships. One of the biggest factors I used in selecting a partner is I looked for a person that was supportive and not argumentative. My wife is so amazing and when I do dumb things she is great at allowing me to be me, and allowing me to learn on my own. Part of her sill at this is who she is, and part of her skill at this comes from us talking about the conflicts when they do come up. So the last and biggest reason I don’t fight in relationships is due to the person I’m in the relationship with. I have tried to pick wisely and I am so blessed with an awesome mate because if this.
Thank you for reading and have an awesome relationship conflict free.