If only I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard it:
“Every couple fights.”
You’ve probably been told that you’re not going to be able to help fighting with your life partner. And you’ve also probably been told that it’s a natural, even healthy part of being in a relationship. That you need to “know how to fight” and “know how to make up.”
That is a lie.
Fighting Over Things vs. Working Through Things
Don’t get me wrong. Struggle is a natural part of being in a relationship. And refusing to deal with issues is certainly unhealthy.
Every couple I know has to deal with hurt, frustration, disappointment, confusion, annoyance, and misunderstanding. And that’s okay. Nobody’s perfect.
And it is healthy to share those feelings, to work on things, to talk through things, to be scared, to cry, to plead, and to challenge.
But do you really think it’s impossible to say no to fighting? Especially with the one person you promise to love, support, respect, and care for with all your heart?
There is a difference between discussing and fighting. It has to do with kindness and respect. And when you are fighting, you are giving up on those. Working through things constructively, on the other hand, is a part of kindness and respect.
Some Couples Really Don’t Fight
Don’t just take my word for it. I have only been in a relationship for about three years. But I know other couples–couples who have been together for a long, long time–who say they have never had a fight. Oh, they’ve been through a lot, struggled a lot, shed a lot of tears. But they have never “gotten into it” with each other. They have never really fought.
And I think there’s something really special, really loving and caring about refusing to fight with someone, no matter how familiar and comfortable the relationship gets.
This doesn’t mean that if you’ve fought, you’ve failed. There’s nothing “better” about me if I don’t fight with my girlfriend. We might end up having some fights, anyway.
But all the excusing and explaining and justifying fighting, as a “normal” part of relationships, has got to stop.
Why Fighting Doesn’t Make Sense
I don’t claim the peace that my girlfriend and I have had is because of something great in us. But I am thankful for it. And I wish that more people would believe it’s possible to have peaceful relationships. Because believing you can stop fighting is the first step.
I do, though, think I have an idea of one big thing that’s keeping us from fighting. And I want to share it with you. Because the point is not to judge couples who fight, but to give hope and encouragement. So here’s what helps my girlfriend and I say no to fighting:
We are a team.
We stand and fall together. If we fight each other, we fight ourselves. If we support each other no matter how hard it gets, we support ourselves.
One of the most valuable things we provide for each other is the comfort of knowing we have someone on our team, in every single part of our lives. Someone who cares for us, will defend us, and will help us.
So when one of us is stressed out, the other understands. When one of us disappoints, the other forgives. When one of us fails, the other picks up the slack. And when one of us doesn’t pull enough weight, the other gently asks for a change.
We don’t escape fighting because we’re perfect. If we were perfect, we would do a lot less crying, a lot less sitting in confused silence, a lot less apologizing, and a lot less hugging.
I think we escape fighting largely because, no matter how tough things get, we keep this in the forefront of our minds: We are a team. We have to be a team!
I know we may fight someday. (And the surest way to make it happen is by saying we’ll never fight.) But if that becomes a part of who we are, shame on us. Because fighting is not necessary. It is disrespectful, self-centered, and damaging. We’re supposed to be a team, and that means having each other’s back–even when it hurts.
I’m not willing to assume Alyssa and I will ever fight, though. Because there are couples who just don’t do it. And, like them, we make a point of remembering that we’re on each other’s team.
“Every couple fights” is a lie. And it’s one that’s damning a lot of young couples to very hurtful and lonely relationships.
What helps to make your relationship peaceful and supportive?