True love isn’t about running in slow motion across a field of wildflowers into each other’s arms and murmuring sweet nothings into each other’s ears. Nor is it about being on a never-ending honeymoon and existing in a perpetual state of ecstatic union where every day is sunny and we engage in perfectly synchronized, effortless, multiple-orgasmic, no-sweat, no-fart sex.
True love means you both dig in the dirt of the relationship and pull the weeds to create an ever-growing intimacy. It means kissing and yelling, playing and fighting, comforting and challenging each other. It means being real, not careful. If you want true love, you will need to feel everything: the fear, hurt, anger, and sadness, as well as joy and bliss.
So love is messy. Why talk about this? Because only when you wrap your head around the messiness that is at the heart of intimate relationships can you appreciate why conflict is necessary. As you’ll discover, having fights doesn’t guarantee a great marriage or partnership. You need to learn why and how and when to fight, and what to fight about. You need to figure out how to use everything from petty squabbles to big blow-out arguments to:
* Be understood
* Understand your partner
* Get what you want
* Enjoy the adventure
* Learn and grow together
* Get closer and be more intimate
Engaging in conflict that builds intimacy takes practice. Because love is messy, some people avoid fights to avoid dealing with the messiness. Because love is a complex, volatile mix, other people engage in destructive conflict—they play games, they fight mindlessly, they argue with one foot in the past and one in the present. We’re going to help you learn how to engage in relationship fights with this messiness in mind so you can battle to bliss rather than into divorce court.
Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to fight—or don’t fight enough, or at all! They tend to teach conflict resolution rather than conflict completion. Contrary to conventional wisdom, conflict can be a couple’s secret weapon for coming closer, not a sign they’re coming apart—at least when couples know why they fight, how to fight, and what to fight for. In The Heart of the Fight, we share 15 common fights, what they really mean, and how they can bring you closer. Here are the top three.
“Contrary to conventional wisdom, conflict can be a couple’s secret weapon for coming closer, not a sign they’re coming apart—at least when couples know why they fight, how to fight, and what to fight for.”
1. The Blame Game
Here the fight is over who is at fault—for a lousy vacation, a crummy restaurant choice, an obnoxious visitor overstaying her welcome, or the argument itself. There’s a big difference between scapegoating and figuring out why something went wrong. The former is a vindictive activity while the latter is a learning exercise. Getting caught in the Blame Game often results in endless loops of dissatisfaction with no real change. Instead of assigning blame in arguments, figure out what you’re so upset about, what went wrong, and how to change it now and in the future. As you look underneath, you’ll discover why is it that you are so concerned about affixing blame and can focus instead on what it will take for you to be satisfied.
2. Up and Down Toilet Seats and Other Domestic Disputes
Petty squabbles, such as disagreements about chores, toilet seats, and neglected and unappreciated Cinder(f)ellas cover a range of domestic disputes from who’s washing the dishes, picking up the kids, making dinner, and doing the laundry to arguing over how chores should be done. These are often fights over the distribution of duties or minimizing and demeaning each other’s domestic contributions. There are power and control struggles at unconscious levels in all relationships that often play out in squabbles over who does what or how tasks should be done. If you bicker without resolution or one of you gives in to end the fighting, nothing is learned. Rather than drag the relationship down, these domestic duty duels can be opportunities for relationship growth. This skirmishing serves a purpose, helping to resolve or at least expose issues that would otherwise eat away at the fabric of the relationship.
3. Dueling Over Dollars
Financial feuds—whether about making money, spending it, using it the way you want, managing it (or not)—are volatile topics for many couples. These fights range from "Are you crazy? We can’t afford that!" to "You’re such a tightwad!" Or, it may begin innocently enough, with one person saying out of concern, "Why don’t you ask for a raise?" But concern can easily segue into anger when the response to the question fails to satisfy: "You’re just not motivated to get ahead and make something of yourself." Money—lack of it, making more of it, how it’s spent or managed— may be a valid concern; however, money is only the surface subject of the argument. Money is powerfully symbolic of many diverse things depending on the individual. These fights often mask issues of self-worth, values, or a sense of security. They can stem from a desire to be appreciated, other unmet desires such as keeping up with the Joneses, or hunger for social affirmation. We all want to be loved, and we easily make the mistake of equating enough money with enough love. Evolutionary biology and neuroscience also show us that having enough resources is linked with survival in our primitive brains, so any threat of money scarcity can trigger our (often irrational) primal fear—and feisty fights.
The following was an excerpt from, "The Heart of the Fight: A Couple's Guide to 15 Common Fights, What They Really Mean, and How They Can Bring You Close"
Reprinted with permission: New Harbinger Publications, Inc. copyright © 2016 by Judith Wright and Bob Wright
Judith Wright, EdD, is a world-renowned couples and lifestyles coach, media favorite, inspirational speaker, lifestyles expert, professor, and corporate consultant. She is the award-winning coauthor of Transformed!and the best-selling author of "There Must Be More Than This" and "The Soft Addiction Solution." Wright has appeared on 20/20, Oprah, Good Morning America, and Today; and in over 600 print and radio interviews, including the "New York Post," "Boston Herald," and "San Francisco Chronicle."
Bob Wright, EdD, is an internationally recognized visionary, speaker, educator, consultant, coach, professor, and best-selling author. He cofounded the Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential to teach people to develop their vision and fulfill their dreams. Coauthor of the award-winning book "Transformed!" and several other books that have sold hundreds of thousands of copies globally, Wright is recognized as a top coach by "Crain’s Business" and has helped thousands of people across the country transform their careers, relationships, and lives.