Hey it’s Mike Fiore with your weekly Digital Romance Newsletter.
Today, we’re going to talk about fighting…
Will you explain it to me. I don’t understand why my husband shutdown and won’t communicate with me when he’s angry with me?~ Sue
You know what’s funny? I get emails every day that could be novella’s and yet, here, you wrote me a question I could spend all day answering and it was 2 sentences.
And boy is it a loaded question.
Short answer: He’s scared of you.
Long answer: (woof, let’s break this down)
Opinions are all over the board on this one. Some people think that when you fight in a relationship you clear the air and are able to move on. Others think that one fight (or consistent fighting) means their relationship is ending.
Honestly, both are correct…. depending on how you fight. That’s right, there is a right way and a wrong way to fight with your partner. And, honestly, most of us fight the wrong way.
The Problem Men Have With Fighting
Most men, when confronted about a problem either barely respond, holding in their thoughts to simmer until they explode or are too intimidating/lose control. Both are TERRIFYING TO WOMEN.
The Problem Women Have With Fighting
Most women, when confronted about a problem either instantly becoming screaming demons or break down into a river of tears. Both are TERRIFYING TO MEN.
See the similarity? Both men and women are scared of the reactions of their partners. So, why does he shut down? Because he’s scared of you.
He’s scared that you’re going to break down in tears. He’s scared you’re going to yell at him. He’s scared he doesn’t know the REASON why you’re fighting. He’s scared to say “this is a really dumb fight.” He doesn’t want to bring things up when he’s angry because he is unsure if the dump truck of pent up problems is going to be unloaded on him when he just wanted to know why you’re out of toilet paper, even though he asked you to pick some up on the way home and was desperate enough to contemplate how the shells work in Demolition Man and whether he could use that little “ocean display” you had in your bathroom to clean himself up…
All this boils down to something I’ve talked about over and over again… COMMUNICATION.
The key to a long lasting happy relationship is communication. Communication when it’s easy to express your feelings and most importantly, communication when it’s HARD to express your feelings.
How Do You Fight?
Well first off, STOP HOLDING THINGS IN. Both men and women are guilty of this. He doesn’t take out the trash on time, but you don’t say anything. She doesn’t do the dishes that night, but you don’t say anything. We hold it all in until someone forgets toilet paper and suddenly we’ve got a world war on our hands between the two of you. Because it’s not about the toilet paper. It’s about 400 other things that we just let simmer inside us.
And we’ve all been there. We’ve all had the thought “If I just told him that when he does that it makes me feel like he isn’t listening to me, right then and there we would have taken care of the problem and we wouldn’t be fighting right now.”
And that’s one trick. When something happens that hurts you or bothers you, talk about it. Don’t yell about it. Talk about it. “Sweetie, I noticed you forgot to take out the trash, even though I asked you. I understand that things get in the way, but it makes me feel like you aren’t listening to things I say. Logically, I know that isn’t the case, but I wanted to let you know what I’m feeling so you’re aware.”
He might come back with a snarky response, but keep your cool and keep talking so you two can have a DISCUSSION about it, not a fight.
Working on this yourself is easy. Getting your partner to work on it? Much harder.
So How Do You Get Your Partner to Start Talking About Things Right When They Happen?
For this, I want to swing over to my Support Diva, Maggie and a story she told me about her fiancee…
Hey guys! Maggie here.
The best compliment I have ever gotten from my partner was “You’re really good at not fighting.” I was confused. Not fighting? I had a distinct memory of the previous week where things turned sour and we absolutely had a fight. But then I realized, the fight lasted about 3 minutes.
I had asked him a question and he gave me a snarky response that I didn’t appreciate. I have one of those faces that gives everything away and boy did it react. He saw the tears start to bubble in my eyes and gave me another snarky response. That was all it took to put me over the edge. There I was, crying in my kitchen because of two snarky responses. He sighed and rolled his eyes.
Right there, I had a choice.
I could have unleashed hell but I quickly had this conversation with myself:
Why are you crying? Because he was unbelievably rude.
Why was he rude? Because… well… oh wait, earlier today he got that bad news about work, and…
I quickly dried my face and said “Baby, I’m sorry I instantly broke into tears, it was a knee jerk reaction to what you said, which wasn’t nice and isn’t cool, but I don’t think it was about me. Are you feeling upset about the news you got at work today?”
He paused for a long time. “Yeah. I’m scared because I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m really sorry I took that out on you.”
And there it was. The end of our fight. We talked about work, talked about plans of attack and 10 minutes later we were making out like teenagers. And I realized that I was good at not fighting. I’m good at not fighting because I try to find the logic in the emotion. It’s harder than it sounds, but it’s powerful when you can do it.
Every time we fight, I try to find the reason behind the fight. And sure as shit, he started to do it too.
Now that Maggie has shared one way she fights I want to share one way I fight.
When my wife and I are having a fight, I stop in the middle and ask if we can have sex. That’s right. I stop the fight and ask to have sex.
Because during the fight we have all these pent up emotions clawing to get out and for us, sex is a great way to handle that. Once the sex is over we both feel great, because… well… it’s sex. But it also allows us to have a more logical and calm conversation about what was bothering us. Rather than taking out the emotion in words or actions that would hurt each other, we found a proactive way to use our emotions.
So, Sue, How Do You Get Him To Not Shut Down?
Talk to him. When he shuts down, you have to calmly “fight back.”
“I can tell that you’re upset. I’m not sure what it’s about, but I would like to hear it. If you want to take some time to collect your thoughts, do it, but I’m here for you when you need me.”
“I can tell that you’re upset with me because I didn’t _____”. I’m really sorry I didn’t do it. I don’t want to give you excuses, I just want to apologize. I’d really like to talk to you about it when you’re ready.”
The key here is that you aren’t forcing him to talk to you right now. You’re letting him know that he can. You’re letting him know that you aren’t going to blow up and become a screaming demon or a puddle of mushy tears. You’re letting him know that the ball is in his court.
And trust me, you’ll be surprised at how quickly he DOES communicate with you. Once he knows it’s safe, he’ll open up.
Woof! Fighting is never fun, but thanks for sticking with me on that one.
You probably don’t know this but there are just THREE things you have to do to “wake up” the romance center of any man’s brain and turn him into the “Romantic Beast” you deserve (and desire so much)…