You Want To Fight? Okay, Let’s Fight.
I’m having a rough week. Who am I kidding? Every week is rough with little kids when there is more than one of them. You know who else is having a rough week? My husband. Yep, he is struggling this week, too. Sadly, when families are dealing with lots of conflict, your relationships can suffer – those with your spouse and those with your children — but, they don’t always have to.
See, the thing is…when one member of the family is struggling, everyone struggles — at least in families that are close. So, if your family is going through a challenging period, don’t despair and don’t be embarrassed. Alternatively, believe that your family skirmishes are often proof of your family’s strong connection, a sign of your compassion for one another and symbolic of your unified strength.
I know that you are probably confused and may be thinking “how in the world can the fact that the whole family is fighting and having meltdowns be good for anybody?” Well it can be, and I am going to tell you why and how.
Why We Are Fighting
Because we are parents and we have kids. That is the concise and true answer as to why there are numerous disagreements in the household. Do you deal with daily conflict in your home, be it with your husband or with your children, or amongst everyone? Well, let me share this with you. THIS IS NORMAL AND IT IS NOT SUCH A BAD THING. Not a bad thing!? I know, I’m freakin’ nuts, right? Wrong. So, hear me out.
People who love each other fight sometimes. Of course, physical violence or emotional abuse is NEVER okay, but quarrels about day-to-day life events are inevitable. In fact, it is 100% natural for people who live together to sometimes have a (or multiple) difference(s) of opinions, daily. It is natural for people to feel negative emotions. It is natural for people to lose their tempers.
How To Fight “Right”
There is a right way to fight and a wrong way to fight, but first let’s make clear here that when I say “fight,” I mean to have a strong disagreement or verbal quarrel — nothing more than that. Who are you disagreeing with? Well, it could be anybody from your spouse to your child, to your parent or sibling, to a co-worker or a friend. Regardless of who is your verbal sparring partner, the rules for fighting fair remain the same.
Here are my suggestions on how to fight the right way:
Calm the fudge down. This is practically impossible for me which is the main freakin’ problem. Anyone else with me on this? For so many of us, we get worked up involuntarily and it happens to us because we are feeling uncomfortable and anxious — both of which can be debilitating. What we need to do is BREATH — really breath. It is a way to practice self-care at the exact moment that you need some.
Don’t tell the other person to calm the fudge down. This never works and always enrages them more. Enough said.
Take a sip of water. I know…I hear you…you are saying to yourself ‘WTF,’ but I mean it — just give this one a try. If you are mid-argument or feel yourself getting heated walk to the fridge, grab yourself a bottle of water, and take a swig. You have no clue how well this simple tactic of stopping the “fight” and interrupting it to take a sip of water will work. I can almost guarantee that you will come back to the situation slightly more relaxed and mild in your manner. Did you return to the argument and your tension level is still at an all-time high? Go get another sip. Eventually this will work to slow down the piercing word darts, and it will also shield you from the ones coming your way.
Take a fictitious zipper to your mouth. I have such a problem keeping my darn mouth shut while other people are talking, especially if and when I don’t agree with what they are saying. If any of you are like me, the problem with us is that we are so focused and tunnel-visioned on what we need to interject into the dialogue, that we are not listening, not truly hearing what the other person is saying and definitely not compassionately attempting to understand and validate it.
Know the boundary line and don’t cross it. Listen, we all draw our boundary lines at different spots and our boundaries may be topic-dependent. This is okay. But you need to know your opponent’s boundary line and don’t cross it unless you are absolutely truly sure that it’s the route you want to go. In families, unless the matter is such a serious one, like one of life or death, I say never cross that line if you can help it — and you can help it.
Take any grudges and toss them out with the trash each week. Literally — what is your trash day? Friday? Okay, so every Friday, take all of the conflict from the week and any grudges that you are still holding on to and GET RID OF THEM. They serve no purpose except to irritate you and the person that caused the grudge. THEY ARE NOT PRODUCTIVE and they are not necessary. Thankfully, I have trash pickup two days a week.
Your family’s “fighting” is not the end of the world and honestly, the fights are often good ice breakers to get more positive communication flowing within the household. Make sure that you “fight fair,” are respectful, and that you know where the boundary lines are. Other than that, don’t stress too much or beat yourself up over your participation in the dissension.
A LIVESCIENCE article by Rachel Rettner states that a 2010 study affirmed “a little arguing now and then is good for you, if done for the right reasons”. The results of the study also made note that “when people experience tension with someone else, whether their boss, spouse, or child, sidestepping confrontation could be bad for their health”. So…think of your family fighting as a healthy alternative to blatant avoidance and passive aggressiveness.
The takeaway: Don’t avoid confrontation. Take it on, but do so as respectfully and as calmly as possible. And, when you are unable to remain cool and at least somewhat collected in your bickering delivery, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, simply step away, regroup, and come back to the disagreement with a slightly more slower and smoother approach.
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