How can fighting be good for anything? Steven Lake explores how this works in relationship.
I hate fighting. I hate conflict. I hate emotional upset. I hate it when my partner is upset. I hate all the bad feelings that come up for me when arguing. I hate saying things I later regret. I hate hearing hurtful things my partner says. I hate using the word hate so much.
Yes, I am conflict avoidant. Many people are, but not everyone. Some people actually like fighting. If you like fighting, you might want to stop reading, unless you want to peer into the experience of people who have a tough time in high conflict situations.
The pre-eminent researchers on couples, John and Julie Gottman, say that how often one fights is not a determinant in the success of a marriage, but rather, it is how one fights. Respect is the defining variable. As long as couples respect each other, fighting in and of itself is not a threat to the relationship.
If you are afraid of conflict and strong negative emotions, here are seven reasons why it is important to be able to successfully engage your partner and manage strife.
Healthy fighting and successful resolution leads to these 7 benefits:
1. It strengthens the relationship by increasing trust.
Constructive fighting that occurs within boundaries, or rules, that allow for emotional expression while avoiding abuse, strengthens a relationship. Weathering the storm allows a couple to see the clearing skies, and with calm waters approaching, a deeper understanding is glimpsed on the horizon.
Coming through the other side of an argument strengthens feelings of trust in the process. Knowing that I can survive makes fighting less threatening. Because it is less threatening I tend to avoid delaying a confrontation and present my concerns earlier to my partner when they are less likely to cause an explosive reaction.
Sometimes arguments erupt like an unforeseen squall on the ocean, blind-siding both partners. Surviving these surprises increases resiliency to confrontational situations.