Have you ever considered an argument or fight as an opportunity for something good in your relationship? If you are like most couples, probably not.
Every negative interaction presents an opportunity to create a better understanding and a deeper connection in a relationship. Ultimately, this leads to growth in a couple. In fact, couples who experience low conflict or no conflict at all in their relationship are deprived of opportunities to make amends by showing vulnerabilities to each other, learn more about each other, ask questions to understand each other’s perspective better, and connect more intimately on emotional and intimate levels.
Disagreements & other such negative interactions occur in most relationships, even the most secure ones. And it isn’t what happens during the negative interaction that impacts the relationship as much as what occurs after the interaction is over. When one or both partners are able to turn towards each other soon after with the purpose of making amends, such as sincerely making an effort to understand the other better, communicating more vulnerably this time, owning up to one’s own part in the negative interaction, apologizing for being harsh or walking away earlier – not only does it help heal hurt or angry feelings but it also brings two people closer together. It creates a sense of trust and security in the couple’s relationship.
Pay attention to how you behave after an argument. Do you become cold, distant, and/or silent afterwards or do you become angry, harsh, dismissive, and/or spiteful? These are common behaviors that couples engage in that, the longer they continue, they can deepen the undesired feelings from the argument, making the process of making amends and healing more difficult. While it is difficult to think of turning towards your partner with a purposeful vulnerability, curiosity, and compassion after a heated exchange, it is also difficult to sit with hurt or angry feelings, waiting hours or days or weeks to make amends. Which difficult road do you want to choose and with what end result?
Turning towards your partner with vulnerability and curiosity without a doubt will be difficult the first few times, but it will become second nature the more you do it. Think of it this way: to break an old habit, you have to develop a new one. If it is habit that makes you walk away or become cold or spiteful towards your partner, then it will require developing a new habit of responding differently after a fight through conscious effort and consistent practice. The next time you find yourself distressed after a negative interaction, remind yourself the opportunity that presents in front of you to turn this negative interaction into something positive for your relationship.