The honeymoon phase of a relationship can feel heavenly. Besides learning about all the things you and she have in common, you get to enjoy her company and engage in long conversations about everything and nothing. You don’t even notice any flaws in your new mate; all you can see are the cute “quirks”; idiosyncrasies that make her all the more charming.
But, and we all know there’s a “but,” as in any game, if it was too simple, it wouldn’t be all that exciting, would it? The time eventually comes when the fog of flawlessness dissipates, and those quirks aren’t all that adorable anymore. It is at this particular moment when “The Fight” ensues.
Most couples agree that a fight every now and then adds spice to a relationship, and keeps things interesting. But fights are a risky business and, if not handled appropriately, can plant the seed for the relationship’s demise, creating an atmosphere of resentment and hostility.
Arguments, however, don’t necessarily have to spell the end of your cozy union. They could actually be a venue for venting your frustrations and working out differences. But like any other conflict, these wars of words must be handled responsibly and with tact. To weather the storms and stay the course in a relationship, try the following rules of engagement to survive the love battles that plague all relationships.
5 times to win
1- Do not go in for the kill
This may be a war of sorts, but it should remain civil at all times. Whether it’s a tte—tte at Camp David or a spat with the girlfriend at a summit of your own in the bedroom, any outcome that is too one-sided can end in failure or break-up.
When it’s painfully obvious how justified you are in getting upset after she grilled you about chatting with the waitress that evening, for example, resist the temptation to rub the sweet victory in her face and allow her to leave the fight with dignity.
Should you go for the jugular with a demoralizing blow to the ego, you may come away feeling pretty clever and tough, but your triumph won’t lend itself to reconciliation, and the chances of finding yourself left to discern the “scrambled” channel will increase dramatically.
2- Stay relevant
Arguments between couples are invariably filled with emotional outbursts — yes, even for alpha-males. That’s why I highly recommend that you stick to the topic you’re arguing about. Do not bring up unrelated issues or suddenly interject with, “Well, maybe you should go find that loser who dumped you three years ago because you were fat.”
And should your woman try to stray from the topic, take charge of the situation and bring her back to the topic at hand. Remember; women have an extraordinary memory and if you’re not careful, yours may attempt some Jedi mind-trick on you, in effect, putting you on the defensive. Insist on dealing with one matter at a time.
3- Concentrate on the end-result
Men are supposed to be the rational ones, so keep this in mind when it comes time to spar verbally. Decide what you are arguing about and what you hope to achieve by the end of it. If you don’t have a clear understanding of your goals, how will you know when you’ve accomplished them?
Once your objectives are logically determined, ensure that when they are realized, the dispute ends. Nobody enjoys arguments that go in circles and never seem to end, especially when they distract us during the best part of a muted Britney Spears video. Don’t be part of the problem. When you’ve accomplished what you set out to do, make your woman aware that the train stops here and that you’re not in the mood for a round-trip back to Nag Land .
4- Don’t get personal
If your goal is to be constructive, allowing the argument to degenerate into name-calling and one-upmanship will not win you any Nobel peace prizes. Even women who are rough around the edges usually take vulgarity directed at them to heart, whether they demonstrate it openly or not. You wear the pants, so be the man and keep your cool.
5- Pick your fights
There is always a decision to be made between two things that men value: being right and peace and quiet. Every additional argument you commit yourself to decreases your football-game-watching time by 20 minutes to an hour, depending on your woman. During the playoffs, the stakes are higher, naturally.
At the same time, though, it’s difficult to just put down the gloves and take one on the chin. Our competitive nature and the fact that we’re often right are strong incentives to jump into the fray, and there’s nothing wrong with fighting for your cause, in any event.
But choose where you want to direct your energies wisely and be sure to adjust your intensity according to the importance of the topic. When it’s not worth it, keep it low-key, or just let it go and who knows, you might be lucky enough to fall off the mood swing radar altogether.
Arguments in relationships are unavoidable. After all, you’re not the same people. You’re biologically, psychologically and environmentally different, and your differing points of view are healthy.
But all too often, your contrasting perspectives will lead you into the black hole that is the fight, without knowing how or why you got there. Women can spring frustrating issues on us out of nowhere, but stay calm and collected. Your approach during your arguments can dictate the longevity of the relationship as much as the outcomes of the arguments themselves.
To keep the relationship on track for years to come (assuming that that’s what you’re objective is), adhere to the rules of engagement and maintain mutual respect. That way, once the battle is won, at the end of the day you’ll still be able to sleep soundly with the same woman who tends to drive you crazy at times. At the very least, you can enjoy the make-up sex that is the silver lining to any stormy spat.