Boy Meets Girl: Working Through Conflict is Worth the Fight
By BRYANT MATERA and KAT DICKENSON
This week we’re going to abandon our typical back-and-forth and just give you the plain facts about staying together in the face of adversity.
True, we’ve dealt with how to handle a fight. But what about an apocalyptic one, not to mention the aftermath? What if the fight didn’t go as you’d hoped? Maybe things are a little worse for wear, but we’re here to help. Also, we’re writing this under the assumption that you actually want to stay together with your significant other.
First off, stay as calm as possible. The last thing you need is for the whole thing to get blown out of proportion, because then you start saying things you don’t mean, and everybody comes out that much worse.
If you have a list of grievances you need to vent, take your time. Do not decide to inundate your boyfriend or girlfriend with every single reason why you think he or she is a terrible partner all at once. Don’t be spiteful either. Don’t do anything to “get back at” or intentionally hurt the other party, and don’t do anything stupid that you’ll only end up regretting.
Assuming you really do love one another, getting back on track shouldn’t be that much of a problem (we’re staunch believers in “true love conquers all”). A good decision to make when things get a little shaky is to give each other some space. The time and distance can often help each party appreciate the other more. And when the time comes to close that gap, do something celebratory.
Also, understand that a healthy relationship will have issues. It’s supposed to. People are just too different to slide along without any sort of friction. We all have our own ways of doing things that have worked for us our whole lives, and most of us are too stubborn to see any other way.
Honestly, the couple that never disagrees is probably much more unhappy than the ones that do actually feel comfortable enough to voice their objections. That’s why we hear the term “compatible” so much; you’re not going to fit perfectly, but it just might be perfect enough. You won’t be happy 100% of the time, no matter who you end up with.
Don’t let the differences get to you, though, even if they manifest themselves in arguments. It sounds syrupy, but if you really love each other, you’re going to work it out, even when it comes to the bigger things. Don’t give up if you know what you have is worth fighting for. Love is a curious thing, in that it imbues within one an extraordinary patience for their beloved. You’ll do whatever it takes, and they should be willing to as well. (On the flip side, if they can’t be bothered, you’d better bail).
Yes, some people just aren’t meant to be, but, (and this will be as vague as it gets), you’ll know when you find the one that is. Just wait for the lightning.
It might be useful after a potentially relationship-ending fight to set up some mutually agreed upon benchmarks or rules. That way you can see visible progress and actually consciously recognize whether both you and the other person are trying or not. Plus, that way you have a physical entity that clearly communicates exactly what you want and need. There’s no room for ambiguity.
And above all, forgive. That’s what love is all about.