Fighting Fair

All couples fight. It’s just part of being a couple, of being in a relationship. No matter how great your partnership is, you’re inevitably going to fight. Our problem lies, however, in the fact that neither Jesus or I learned to fight fair. We’ve  both dated dysfunctional people who always went for the jugular during fights. And so, we never really learned how to “fight fair.”

When I’m upset, I’m ruthless. I say everything that I know will hurt you. I’ll  throw your biggest insecurities in your face. I’ll say everything that I know will make you feel as bad as I’m feeling in that moment.

And you know what? That’s a childish thing to do. I will freely admit that. But I’ve never known any other way.

I’m now in the first functional relationship I’ve ever been in in my life (that sounds wrong. Is it grammatically correct?), yet I still fight like I’m 10 years old.

I say the one or two things that I know will hurt more than anything else. I throw his weaknesses and addiction and everything that makes him “him” but doesn’t make him “bad,” in his face like he’s somehow awful. And I don’t mean those things. I really don’t. The difference is that now, about 10 minutes after I say those things, I text or call and say that I’m sorry I was mean. That being upset with someone doesn’t have to mean saying hurtful things to that person.

I guess now all that’s left to learn is to not say those things at all. Being upset doesn’t mean being cruel, and it doesn’t mean the end of your relationship. It just means being upset.

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  1. RicNo Gravatar
    Posted February 22, 2011 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    All couples disagree sometimes. But that does not mean all couples argue in any kind of heated way. Try reading Beck’s book Love is Not Enough.

    You appear to take things personally and that way of perceiving things then leads to acting personally toward him. A disagreement does not have to mean anything other than he disagrees. I wish I would have known this when I got married at age 20… big mistake.. and it took me years to learn how to see things differently.


  2. AprilNo Gravatar
    Posted February 22, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I was never like this until my ex-husband. He would go for the jugular and I would just cry and cry and ask him why he’d say such hurtful things. Then I got tired of taking it and I would dish it right back out at him. It was completely unhealthy and I’m thankful I’m not in that type of relationship anymore.

    Being with Joe, who truly is a good man and treats me well, I don’t feel the need to go in for the kill. But then again, we don’t really fight either. We will have little arguments, but they last for a few minutes and they’re done. I’ve never been so angry with him that I’ve felt the need to say something that was a blow below the belt.

    It’s great that you’re in a functional relationship. It’s even better that you realize that what you’re doing is wrong. I truly hope that you can find a way to fight fair. I assure you that once you do, you’ll see how much faster the arguments end.

  3. alanaNo Gravatar
    Posted February 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I think this is why people say it isn’t good for parents to never argue in front of their children. It’s healthy for them to see their parents can have disagreements and still love one another.

    I used to be like you, but I learned to just keep my mouth shut. It wasn’t easy, but it’s never easy to unlearn behaviors. I also learned to talk about how I feel rather then what he did to piss me off. They teach kids “I” language in elementary, but it really works!

  4. Nadia WestNo Gravatar
    Posted February 22, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    I grew up with a dysfunctional mother who would scream to be heard and generally alienate the whole family in the process. (Or pout in her room for days.) I learned from a young age that screaming was how you dealt with things, and by my throwing verbal barbs meant to hurt I could one up her sometimes.

    Needless to say, like you I’m in the process of re-learning how to deal with conflict. It’s been slow going but thankfully my partner has been wonderful in working with me on it.

  5. emiNo Gravatar
    Posted February 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    I have been in a relationship with Mikey for over a year now and I can honestly say it has been the best year of my life.

    He is helping me get over my shitty temperament and is more than patient. He treats people the way he would like to be treated and it usually comes back to him. I’ve learned to open up and not fear belittlement because of my point of view.

    Conversely, I have also learned that the way that I grew up with two severely dysfunctional parents does not mean that I have to also be that way. My father was mean and abusive, mentally and physically. My mother was unable to communicate with my father because of the language barrier and chose to also be an alcoholic like my dad.

    Mikey and I don’t argue in front of the kids. We discuss it behind closed doors….It usually ends up in lots of tickling and laughter, with maybe some sex thrown in.

  6. RedNo Gravatar
    Posted February 25, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    It all starts with the noticing. The fact that you’re recognizing these aspects of your fighting style is a huge step. Keep recognizing and it’ll change. :)

    Great observation.

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