Happy New Year!
A new day, a new year. For many of us, this means a fresh start. For some of us out there in Relationshipland (this can mean any relationship - a friendship, a romance, family ties), your New Years resolution may be to “try harder”, which translates to “stop the fighting” or “try to fight less.”
But fighting is a natural part of being in ANY relationship. In fact, if done the right way, it’s healthy.
We don’t often talk about that - the healthy ways to fight. Most of us have negative associations when it comes to fighting: hurt feelings, bruised egos, someone walking away, the downward slide of the relationship, screaming, throwing things, hitting things (or each other), etc.
Or perhaps you identify more with the couple (let’s use a couple in this example) that never fights. Something is clearly wrong, someone clearly has something that needs to be said, and yet no one is saying anything. The air in the room is thick, or icy, and likely very tense. One or both parties act like everything is fine, but inside they are seething with resentment, disappointment, sadness, confusion, or any number of feelings which they express either passive aggressively (silent treatment, icy tone of voice, conveniently “not hearing what you said”) or not at all. This scenario is equally unhealthy. It’s also unfair, to all parties involved.
Fair Fighting is about learning healthy ways to fight because, let’s face it, we all do it. We do it for a reason, too. We fight because we’re passionate about something, we fight because we’re scared or angry or hurt, we fight for our relationships, we fight to solve problems. These are all GREAT reasons to fight - but it is counterproductive if the way in which we fight emotionally destroys the person we love most or at least pisses them off so much that they don’t want to hear even our most valid points.
What I love about Fair Fighting is that the skill set is not only simple, it’s commonsense. That’s not to say it isn’t counter-intuitive in the heat of the moment and, like any exercise, requires repetitive practice and a little guidance at first. What is also great about Fair Fighting is that, while it would be ideal if both parties involved in the unfair fighting were on-board to learning new, healthy ways to fight, you can still see improvement if just one person changes the way they engage in an argument.
I taught a group therapy course on this subject back in Rochester and would love to bring it to the Big Apple. It was the highlight of my Rochester therapy experience and showed me what a big need there is out there to improve the way we fight with one another.
If there are interested parties out there who would like to see this become a formal class or group therapy course, give me a ring at the Offices of Dr. Michael DeMarco (917-525-2205, ext. 5), e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit me at http://www.mytherapist.info/amanda.