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5 ways to fight better


First of all a disclaimer. This is obviously not a post about tips to, I don't know, box or cage fight or wrestle better, although how good would that be if I suddenly came out as the least expected female cage fighter at this point in my little blog. Alas no, I have no hidden cage fighting talents.

Actually a second disclaimer too, when I do say "fight better" I mean have less destructive arguments, but I am not a pyschologist, or relationship therapist, and most of this is from what I've read, learned and my own ponderings.

With Loner. Lover. Friend, I am making myself keep things on an even rotation of loner things (things to do by yourself/ musings about the world), lover things (great dates and thinking about how to be a good girlfriend) and friend things (things to do with your gal pals, and ways I am trying to be a better one).

I've always thought it is quite important to stick to an order (loner post followed by lover post followed by friend post) partly because I want my blog to be a place for all 3 and it could quickly develop into a "great dates" or general musings if I'm not careful.

However, last week I missed out one of my "lover" posts. I had wanted to do a lovely Valentine's post, complete with lots of pictures of candlelit roses, and crispy pork belly courtesy of M&S 2 dine in.

But I didn't post anything partly because it felt a little like I would be treading over that social media line between sharing your celebrations, and bragging to anyone who will listen. It is tough to post a Valentine's date in a way that won't make everyone else throw up on themselves.

And also, it felt a little like a lie.

Will and I did have a lovely Valentine's weekend, on Thursday (the 12th, oh so very uncharacteristically organised of him) he sent roses to my office. On Friday, we took the day off (had annual leave to use up) and went around the Tower of London, drank a whole bottle of prosecco in the afternoon, then headed to Resident for an amazing rump steak to share, with wedges and salad and more prosecco. Saturday we had a lazy day, which ended with aforementioned M&S and him actually agreeing happily to watch a romcom!

And then on Sunday, we had a massive fight.

And it wasn't a fight over much really, Will probably needed space after 2 solid days of such intense couple time and his pulling away always make me attempt to cling on, exasperating the situation.

I lovingly stuck my nose in his business, when it was not really wanted, and pushed my advice even when it was clear he was declining from taking it.

Obviously people who love each other fight. Indeed, people who love each other fight probably  more than people who don't care about each other - if an acquaintance was 20 minutes late to meet me, I wouldn't say a thing but if Will was, I would tear him a new one. If I burnt myself cooking dinner for even a close friend, I certainly wouldn't somehow blame them for the mishap, but if I burnt myself when cooking for Will and I was stressed and in a bad mood, it could quickly become me shouting at him telling him he doesn't do enough cooking and now look what he has done, he has made me burn myself...

I am hoping at this point some people reading this are nodding slightly in recognition, and not just thinking I am a crazy pyscho bitch...Whether it is that they fly off the handle with their other half for not putting their socks in the laundry, or moan at their Mum for not getting the right brand of greek yoghurt, I don't think I am alone at making my loved ones bare the blunt of me overreacting. (The latter has definitely been me again, and the former, well Will).

So aside from us becoming more rational, decent people even to those we love irrationally and ooer sometimes indecently what can we do to help us "fight better", fight in a less damaging way?

Here are 5 ways I've come across/ can think of:

1. One of my favourite books of those I read last year was Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project". A self help book, which isn't too embarrassing to read on the tube. (She also has a great blog - the Happiness Project, here).

In it she talks about "fighting right" which she says is when couples manage to stay in that argument and don't bring up old news and accusations, "you always", "you never", "I should have known you..." which quickly scale things up out of control.

2. I also had a little search around some of my favourite life coaching blogs, and found a tip from Danielle Dowling, which suggested, if you can by any chance get away with it, bring some humour into the argument, do something to lighten the mood and make fun of yourself. (Obviously this won't always work, but still, most of my arguments begin over such silly things, that I think maybe I could get away with being silly.)

3. I also asked my mum and sister how they "fought right". My mum and dad have been happily married for 33 years this spring, so I figured they must be doing something right. And my sister is one of the few people I know, who is still with their first boyfriend they met in their teens, and hasn't had any freak outs about the fact they will probably be together forever, so she must be a good fighter too.

Neither of them knew.

However, I had a think about it, and I think maybe what they do is pick their fights, and don't lose their shit over every little annoyance. Both my mum and my sister can be super scary when mad, causing my dad and my sister's boyfriend to beg them respectively for forgiveness.

But I think it is because they are so nice the rest of the time, so loving and not flying off the handle and getting upset at every little thing that when they do blow up, you know it is for a reason. People give a lot more slack if you pick your battles.

4. Then there is the advice which seems like it has been given since the dawn of time "don't go to bed in a fight".

I'd like to add to that: don't pick a fight anywhere near bedtime. Even if you think someone has done something horribly wrong and can't leave it without them knowing how upset you are, things will never be better from you getting into a fight when you are already a bit tired and cranky. Use sleep as a temporary escape, and bring your issues up in the morning when both of you will have a more balanced view.

5. And finally, last night I got a little bit of advice from an unlikely source when watching Season 3 of House of Cards.

Without giving away any spoilers, Frank and Carrie Underwood, always a stony and odd couple, had a huge argument which they struggled to overcome. They as Frank described "said things which can't be undone".

When fighting try to avoid saying massive sweeping statements, wishing people dead, telling them they are too stupid for you, or you find them unattractive. We all want to hurt someone at that time when we are hurting, but from now on, even though I don't have faith I will always be able to stop making hurtful comments completely, I am not going to say things which can't be recovered from eg. "you are silly spending so much money on (insert your boyfriend's bad habit here) at your age" or even, "and I don't even like you in those jeans" is not a mark on "I hate you and wish you'd leave my life".

Even the loveliest of dinners have to end, and someone has to do the washing up.

Don't completely hate my pseudo pyschology? Then maybe you won't hate "9 ways to be a better pal".

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