The Two Kinds of Big Relationship Fights - Which Are You?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Everyone fights...wait, no, every THING fights.  Lions fight over territory, elk fight over mates, and humans fight over, well, a lot of things.  But when it comes to big fights in relationships, I like to break it down into two different categories. They are Productive Fights and Red Flag Fights. 

photo by Robert Scalesvia PhotoRee

Productive Fights
These fights are the ones that when they are finished you feel relief.
Examples of Productive Fights

1. Personality Clashes
Sometimes you just have different personalities and you will have to talk it out and even duke it out to come up with something that works.  Maybe you just need to agree on how each of you will help with household duties, or ensure the bills are paid equally.  That's fine.  Just make sure you talk them out in a positive way so they don't become a red flag fight. Also, keep in mind, there are people out there that are cheating on each other and fighting about it.  If the worst thing you have to deal with when you guys argue is the fact that one of you likes the temperature on the thermostat at 68 and one likes it at 70, you should laugh about it and consider yourself blessed.  That's not a bad disagreement to have and it's easy to solve!

2. Screaming Matches
What? You thought all intensely heated screaming matches were bad?  The reality is, they are very productive as long as you aren't using verbal low blows on each other, or breaking things.  Yes, we all have done it, don't kid yourself.  You look like a crazed lunatic as you flail your arms around and yell in a ridiculously ugly tone of voice but you are passionate about what you are standing for and you want to get your point across. And let's face it, in this day and age we are desensitized to so much that sometimes shouting is the most effective way to get your point across.   As long as these only last a couple minutes and nobody walks away crying, extremely hurt, or with everything unresolved, it's okay.  In healthy shouting matches each person argues loudly that their point of view or their stance on the issue at hand is right, and they want to get their reasons and points across.  It goes back and forth until you end up laughing and realizing how silly it is to get so hyped up over such a small issue, and you finally come to a resolution.  Screaming matches are only okay if they don't happen on a weekly basis.  A screaming match can sometimes be a referred to as a "blow out" when both of you finally snap and finally duke it out to resolve an issue.  Once it's done you feel relieved and you feel like you got it all out to each other.  A more normal timeline for a screaming match would be maybe once every 2 months.  Usually after a lot of bickering over time doesn't resolve that issue and then it results in a screaming match. 

3. Bickering
Bickering is normal and it's also inevitable.  You know why? Because it's 2012, and we are connected with each other whether it's in person or via phone or text AT ALL TIMES.  So it's no wonder we don't get personal time and we end up getting so irritated and stir crazy when we live with our significant other.  Bickering is actually productive because you are standing up for yourself and you are also communicating.  But when bickering lasts longer than a minute (seriously) and someone ends up with hurt feelings it can have a deeper cause.  Sometimes we are moody (you may need to learn to control your mood swings) or sometimes we have something else we are mad about so we keep bickering about something silly to cover it up.  Eventually those bickering fights explode into something more and usually it's resolved with a long conversation.  If not, then your problems may need to be looked at again.

Red Flag Fights
These fights are the ones that happen more than 3 times, involve verbal abuse, or involve moral values that you just can't agree on.  
Examples of Red Flag Fights

1. Moral Values
Your boyfriend thinks it's okay to go to dance with other women when he goes out with his friends.  Some people don't mind, but other people just can't come to terms with that because in their set of morals, dancing and close physical contact is almost cheating.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  Make sure you establish what your limits are for the relationship first of all!  But if this kind of thing keeps happening and you end up fighting about it and it still keeps happening, that's a red flag.  He probably WON'T change because he doesn't believe what he's doing is wrong and he just can't see it the way you do.  Bottom Line: Make sure you and your partner have the same values when it comes to cheating, inappropriate activity, trust, faith, etc. 

2.  Abuse
You get in a very heated argument and things escalate to the point  where you are either physically, mentally, or verbally abusing one another. 

It's totally normal for people to raise their voices when they are in the heat of the moment but when you start making low blows (fat, ugly, etc.) that's verbal abuse.  That type of behavior in a relationship needs to be addressed right away and if it doesn't seem like it's going to go away, it probably won' get out now!!!  A lot of people that end up getting divorces because of abuse, were alredy being abused BEFORE they were married but they just hoped it would never happen again. 

Physical abuse is...obviously physical.  Whether it's forced sexual relations, pushing, hitting, throwing things at each other, these are all very BIG red flags.  Physical abuse is no joke and if it happens in your relationship TELL SOMEONE.  Talk to somebody, assess the situation, and determine how you can get out of the relationship.  DO NOT stay in an abusive relationship.  If you are reading this and you are in one, GET OUT! I don't care if you don't want to be single.  You should always want to be single instead of being in a relationship where you get abused.   

Mental Abuse is often disregarded because it's harder to recognize.  Mental abuse is when you are abused by someones actions that make you begin to have self esteem issues and mental anguish.  Say your boyfriend is mad at you, but refuses to talk to you or tell you what it is.  He ignores your calls all day, your texts all night, and he literally ignores every attempt you even make to get a hold of him on Facebook, but yet you see him conversing with other people.  It's okay to want time to think, but you need to tell your partner "I need time to think and decompress".  So if you are just getting ignored out of the blue with no explanation it's mental abuse and it's very unhealthy.  Certain mental abuse can even diminish your self esteem because you begin to think YOU are the problem.  And how do we keep our self esteem high? By not surrounding ourselves with people that make us feel like crap!

3. Repetitive Fights
If you are fighting about the same thing at least once a week, that is a major red flag.  Yes, we know, sometimes it seems like you have to remind your boyfriend to clean up after himself everyday once in a while, but if you are honestly fighting about the same big issues all the time, and getting nowhere then maybe you aren't meant for each other.  There are certain things that people repeatedly bicker about but when you have major blow outs because of how you treat each other or about major things like household duties and money, you either need to try to work it out ASAP or realize that maybe some people can't change past a certain point so you shouldn't settle if you can't be happy in that relationship.  

So which category of fights does yours fall into?  Maybe you need to re-evaluate your relationship if you are already fitting into more of the red flag category than the productive one. 

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