Shouting. Slamming doors. Silent treatments. Shutting down. Calling names. Cutting off sex. These are some of the most common fighting techniques employed by couples, all of which have no possible way of solving a relationship problem. In and of themselves, they're emotional, if not child-like, outbursts, designed to punish their beloved. It's an eye for an eye, and everybody loses.
I've written hundreds of thousands of words on this blog since 2008, extolling the virtues of the "easy" relationship, nudging people to consider compatibility on an equal (or greater) footing than chemistry, and pointing out that you can find the hottest, smartest, funniest person in the world and have a miserable life if he or she doesn't know how to communicate effectively.
You can find the hottest, smartest, funniest person in the world and have a miserable life if he or she doesn't know how to communicate effectively.
Which is why the title of this latest New York Times piece, "The Secret to a Happy Marriage is Knowing How to Fight," is something like, "Water is Wet. News at 11!" It's no secret that conflict resolution is vital to a happy marriage. What IS surprising, however, is how little mind we pay to this concept we all know so well.
Long story short: it's impossible to have a smooth, supportive, lasting relationship with someone who invalidates your point of view, shouts over you, undercuts you with criticism, and turns away from your emotional bids for attention - and yet we do this ALL THE TIME, because the person comes in an appealing package. Honestly, it doesn't matter. If you can't let down your guard, be real with someone, and safely express your point of view, you're just putting yourself in the position to be another statistic: either in the 30-40% divorced camp or the 67% unhappily married camp.
There has to be another way.
I wrote a blog post about effective communication here, citing the wisdom in Dr. Jamie Turndorf's book, Kiss Your Fights Goodbye, which I couldn't recommend more.
Check out all three links above and let me know if you've ever dated anyone who was GOOD at nonviolent communication and conflict resolution and how DIFFERENT it is to be with someone who possesses this skill set.
Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.