All happy couples know that fighting is not only inevitable but also quite healthy. It gives them a chance to air their grievances and, if done correctly, can actually bring them closer. Pyschologist and author of “Wired for Love” Stan Tatkin spoke to FoxNews.com about how to “fight well.”
“Our brains are built more for war than for love,” Tatkin said, and understanding this about the mind helps a couple “fight well.” Resisting the war mentality and instead trying to “wave a flag of friendliness” can stop a fight from escalating past a healthy back-and-forth to an all-out brawl. Tatkin calls it “managing one another’s primatives.”
According to Tatkin, the key is to focus on your partner’s facial and body cues, and to note signs of anger. When you start seeing these first signs, Tatkin recommended leading with an act of friendliness. This can be apologizing for the trigger of the arousal and calmly voicing your concern without placing blame.
“This is how you stay in the game because you’re both responsible for this boat that you’re on and if one of you go overboard, you both go overboard,” Tatkin said.
Being in control of your emotions and reactions is key, but if you are afraid of losing your temper, leaving a room is fine only if you plan to return shortly.
“It takes 30 minutes roughly for the average person to calm down,” Tatkin said. By this point you should be aware of the way you acted and can come back to the room with a level head and attempt to discuss your issues in a tone with more levity. Again, Tatkin said, this would be an opportunity to “lead with an act of friendliness.”
While a couple should practice these behaviors every time they engage in an argument, Tatkin also has a list of “no’s.” For example, there should be no “digital fighting.”
“People should not be fighting on text or email, Twitter, Facebook,” he said. According to Tatkin, fighting digitally ignores one of the most important rules of “fighting well,” and that is to heed your partner’s social cues. Texts can easily be misinterpreted and can create a toxic situation. This sort of fighting is akin to arguing in a car, according to Tatkin, because of the lack of eye contact. Without paying attention to your partner’s body and face, an argument can escalate to an unhealthy place quickly.
While fighting is necessary, it doesn’t have to be ugly. Couples can use these opportunities to enhance their relationship and become closer.
For more information on Stan Tatkin and his approach to relationships visit his website by clicking here.