Fighting Well in Relationships

Sometimes when I counsel a person about relationships, two things tend to come out from the person: he doesn’t want to lose her but, darn, this is hard.  My general response is if it’s that important to you, you have to expect to fight for it.  The wonderful and beautiful things of life don’t come easily.  Superficial relationships are easy because you never have to fight for them.  They can come and go and wouldn’t phase you.  But it’s the truly significant, meaningful relationships that we put ourselves through the pains and aches of fighting for.  And I believe we do so, because we genuinely believe that we would rather spend a lifetime fighting for this person than to spend a life without that person.  I know it feels bad fighting with someone but it’s not so bad to have found someone you feel is worth fighting for.

A common counsel I give to couples is to learn to fight well.  Fights are guaranteed.  If you don’t fight, you’re not in the norm – not that it’s necessarily bad, but it’s not the norm.  If it is a significant, deep, and meaningful relationship, fights are likely because you put more of yourself into it, you invest more into it, you expect more out of it, you depend more on it, you hope more from it and you make yourself more vulnerable to it.

So fights are assumed.  I think the goal is to fight well.  One of the keys to fighting well, that I counsel couples on, is to redefine what it means to fight with each other.  Don’t fight with each other as in you’re fighting against each other (e.g. blaming, accusing, judging, demeaning, attacking); this kind of fighting uses the pronoun, “you” a lot – you did this, you don’t do that, I hate it when you say that, why didn’t you do that?

The redefinition of fighting with each other is where “with” means alongside.  Fight alongside each other.  There’s an issue between us – how can we tackle this?  We are all messed up to some extent.  We have our past, our insecurities, our quirks, and our brokenness that we bring into a relationship.  To be lifetime partners means: how can we fight with each other against the issues that we face and stand in our way?   Fighting alongside each other as partners uses the pronoun, “we” a lot.  It’s a shift in mentality where you don’t see the other person as the enemy or object of blame.  The other person is your soulmate, your partner… your batman.  Instead of fighting each other, fight the problem and don’t make each other per se to be the problem.  Fight the insecurities in the other person, fight the inability in the other person to trust, fight the past burdens you both have carried, fight the poor communication…but fight against these together.

Fights can feel pretty bad at times.  But victories are always sweeter!  Expect to fight for the relationships, marriages, and significant others that are important to you.  I think this is one of the practical applications to the biblical virtue of love being patience (1 Corinthians 13:4).

When you got the fighting down, the other f-word is forgive.  Fight well, forgive generously.  In so doing, I think we begin to mirror and understand how God has been loving us.

Well, that’s my relationship hodge-podge for today.  Hope it blesses you.

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One response to “Fighting Well in Relationships

  1. Great article! For most trivial problems between couples.. However, I think that there are some arguments where the “you” pronoun is alright to use.. Could You stop drinking so much alcohol where you are in a drunken stupor all the time? Could You stop having an affair? Could You stop beating me up? I think ppl need to know the limits of a normal relationships with occasional normal fights. Not all relationships are worth fighting for.

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