There are times where I have been so upset with my boyfriend Benji, that I forget that I love him. That I can’t remember why on God’s green earth we decided we were partners, and on the same team.
We have had arguments about everything: money and how we both spend it differently, sex, my car being towed, the fridge fiasco of 2012 (where the fridge I bought on Craigslist and he picked up didn’t fit into the space provided in the kitchen even though I gave him a measuring tape to make sure it would fit), and so on and so forth.
Through all of the fighting (and there will be fighting – no matter how much you love the person you are with, it is inevitable that you will have differences and will argue over them), Benji and I have a phrase for our relationship: “in it to win it”. It may sound corny, but even if we disagree with each other, we want to work out our issues and feel that communication is the key to a long and successful relationship.
But what if you don’t know how to communicate? Or what if the way you communicate hurts instead of helps?
In “Begin the Begin”, an episode in Season 2 of Grey’s Anatomy, the character Addison Montgomery said, “There is a land called Passive Aggresiva, and I am their Queen.” I tried to use this same line on my best friend Tina immediately after I was extremely passive aggressive to her. She told me, “No”, and closed the door. After that, and also after some therapy, I realized that I had spent years using passive aggressiveness as a defense mechanism to avoid communicating my true feelings with the people in my life. I’ve always been afraid of conflict and it’s so much easier to avoid a problem then to actually deal with it.
Cut to many years later where I am in a relationship and faced with continually making the decision: “Will I be passive aggressive when I’m mad and we’re fighting, or will I “woman up” and actually work on the issue?
I look at Benji when we’re fighting over something and even though my natural first response is to pull out my battle armor, I now know the outcome will be worse if I do so. I literally have to take a moment to calm down and think before responding because my initial reactions are:
“I just want to storm out and not come back!”
“I want to say something really mean and hurtful to make him feel bad because he made ME feel bad!”
Instead, I could just, you know, be a mature adult and open up my mouth and say something like a rational human being. If I’m passive aggressive and trying to make him feel bad, all that’s gonna do, is make him upset, and more closed off. It’s only going to make our fight worse. It’s taken me many years to realize that acting this way is not the way to handle conflict.
The following is a quote from one of my favorite books, Eat, Pray, Love. The characters Elizabeth and her fiancé Felipe had been traveling the world, and had become extremely tired of their surroundings and of each other.
“Darling, in the next few hours, we must be very, very, careful to choose what words we say to each other. These are the times, when people get tired like this, that fights can happen. Let’s just choose our words very carefully until we find a place to rest.” Nothing had happened yet, but Felipe was floating the idea that there are, perhaps, moments when a couple must practice preemptive conflict resolution, arresting an argument before it can even begin. So this had become a code phrase of ours, a signpost to mind the gap and beware of falling rocks.”
There are times when you just have to stop an argument before it gets any further. It may be the thing that saves your relationship.
Now, I’m not perfect. I’d say I’ve gone from being passive aggressive all the time, to only be passive aggressive once in a while. It’s something I constantly have to work on. For me, it’s worth it to make sure I have a healthy relationship not only with my boyfriend, but with my friends and family.
In a Fight? Remember This:
1.Try to relax.
2. Take a few moments to think about what you’re fighting about.
3. Remember that you both are on the same team.
4. This may be hard, but try to think about how your actions in this moment will affect the other person – how it will affect them right now and in the long run.
Photo found on http://jessicaouaf.tumblr.com/post/21490174363