Do you avoid fighting with your partner at all costs? Or do you fight often and over the same old issues? You’re about to discover why both extremes are a threat to your relationship. And learn how to stop destructive fighting and put up a good fight to create a positive, passionate connection with your romantic partner when you use these smart fighting tips you’ll learn from my interview with Dr. Ellyn Bader and Dr. Peter Pearson, authors and founders of the Couples Institute.
Popular guests on talk shows, Dr. Ellyn Bader and Dr. Peter Pearson are unusual among couples therapists because they are a couple themselves and have confronted many of the challenges they write and speak about. I asked them to reveal the best fighting strategies for a happy relationships.
What’s the danger in avoiding a fight?
Dr. Ellyn Bader said the dictionary defines fighting as defeating your adversary. She said a better definition of fighting in a relationship is working through issues with honesty and compassion.
Dr. Peter Pearson warned that couples who avoid tough issues may cause all passion to erode over time, because neither partner will risk bringing up a stressful topic. Boring, safe conversations about the weather or the menu can suck the excitement out of a relationship.
The antidote is to take a risk and face issues that cause you pain while you find the solution with mutual compassion for each others needs and well being. This deepens your emotional connection and builds trust.
How do some couples get stuck in a fighting rut?
When couples are always ready for a fight or they keep having the same fight that doesn’t go anywhere, Dr. Pearson says their brain often is to blame. People who have been exposed to painful and threatening life experiences in childhood actually store these painful feelings in their inner brain, the amygdala, also known as the emotional brain. Whenever a new experience matches an old painful one, these triggers cause the wounded emotional brain to start a fight and protect you from more pain.
One antidote is to use relaxation or biofeedback techniques to ease the stress of these triggers. The smell of Cloves also can calm your emotional brain’s urge to fight.
These tools won’t help you stop a fight while you’re in one. How do you stop a fight quickly?
Dr. Bader suggested you take a breather and say to yourself, “It’s not about me, it’s about them–about something that upset them in the past.” As you consider their old issues, it helps you feel compassionate understanding of your partner.
Dr. Bader and her husband also use the “Ouch Exercise” to stop a fight. You have to plan it in advance so that you know what words hurt you and what words would make you feel better if your partner said them to you.
When your partner is using words that hurt you at the start of a fight, the goal is to calmly say, “Ouch–can we replay it again?”
This is a signal for your partner to calm down. Then you tell your partner the words that hurt you, and you say the words you want to hear instead because this would help you feel better.
Dr. Pearson said this gets you out of the victim brain. It is soothing to repeat these requested words a few different ways.
Dr. Bader said she advises couples to become curious instead of furious.
For example, if your partner comes home without doing what they had promised to do and they start making excuses, then you would use the “Ouch-replay” script to stop the fight and rewrite the script.
You could tell your partner that you’d feel better if they’d apologize for not keeping their promise, and maybe other promises.
Your partner will calmly say what you requested. Ideally, this gives them an understanding of how their words and actions affect you, and vice versa. This healthy communication builds a happy relationship.
What if your partner refuses to stop fighting or learn the skills to increase healthy communication?
It would be difficult to improve your relationship which dims prospects for a happy, healthy connection.
What if you’re single? Should you test your date’s fighting skills before you commit to a serious relationship?
Dr. Pearson suggested you ask your date how they feel about disagreements or how they might bring up issues that bother them. Then you can reach an agreement of how you would deal with differences if you decide to enter a long-term relationship.
And you can get free report on the best fighting skills or contact Drs. Bader and Pearson at BestCouplesInstitute.com–or click this link:
I know them and highly recommend them as a paid affiliate partner in my ongoing efforts to help couples work through difficult challenges and create happy relationships.
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Dedicated to our relationship happiness,