There’s a school of thought – still popular in some circles – that couples who fight the most, love each other the most.

I think this is… misleading. What about empathy? What about compassion?

When you imagine a couple fighting, what do you see? Is it the physically confronting image of broken glass, bruised bodies and cut arms? Or is it partners screaming, tears rolling down one’s face, neck veins strained and red?

Whatever the scenario, anger is at the heart of it. One popular[1] dating site expresses this sentiment as follows:

“Slam doors, punch walls and throw dishes. Call me on the phone in a fit of rage. Send text messages of your disdain. Wake me up in the middle of the night because you refuse to let it go until morning.”

I agree with the statement if we reword it a little.

“Couples who fight the most, love each other the most.”

becomes:

“Couples who communicate openly and honestly with each other have the happiest and healthiest relationships.”

A little bit different. More compassion-oriented.

A couple “fighting” can definitely be done with open and honest communication, but not always.

Just like any scenario where you’re experiencing raw and powerful emotions, your relationships become stronger when you express them with openness and vulnerability.

By my estimation, a fight is productive for the relationship if the following conditions are met.

  1. You (or your partner) take responsibility for your anger.
  2. Both people receive empathy around the particular emotions they’re feeling.
  3. No physical harm is inflicted on another person.

Having an argument with your partner (or anyone for that matter) is an opportunity to strengthen the bond and history of the relationship. If you approach a fight with this attitude of growth, rather than dominating or winning the exchange, I think you’ll have a better time.

A fight by its very nature is violent, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid – violence. We’re simply applying compassion to some very strong negative emotions that are typically expressed in a violent or aggressive way.

If you’re in a fight, and any of the following is happening, then I worry that your relationships – and perhaps even own mental health – will be worse-off.

  1. You try to make the other person feel like your anger is their fault. (Blame)
  2. You want the person to submit to your will.
  3. You want the other person to do something because of how you feel. (Shame)
  4. You believe the fight will have a winner and a loser.
  5. You want the listener to feel guilt.
  6. You bury your own feelings for fear of fueling the fire.

Speaking to friends about their stance on the matter, it seems to be split by personality. I spoke to a bunch of friends about this, and all of them said something to the effect of: “It’s not in my nature to fight in relationships. When I have had fights, I hated it.”

This isn’t surprising to my initial hypothesis. There are some people whose personalities are described as “hot and spicy”, others as “cold and mild”. It appears this wisdom is being held up by the hot and spicy crowd.

I’m also glad to say, they all mentioned communication was the thing that leads to a happy and healthy relationship. Glad, because this lines up with my own personal views. Communication is a pretty vague term, though. I’m obviously an advocate of the compassionate, empathetic, open and honest type.

[1] “Popular”, because the relevant article has more than 70,000 shares on Facebook.


Leave a Reply

Related Posts

In-Depth Communication

How to Grow Your Empowerment through Needs

I’m of the opinion that we all share certain fundamental needs. Things like autonomy, interdependence, spiritual communion and play. All of our emotions and feelings are just expressions of a need being met or unmet. Read more…

In-Depth Communication

Why Emotions Are More Important Than You Think

Emotions are a critical part of our ability to communicate effectively. Whether it’s telling our loved ones how joyous we feel when they’re around, communicating your distaste with the way a team member is performing Read more…

In-Depth Communication

All Aboard the Anger Boat

Anger is a raw and primal feeling that happens to all of us. While it can be all well and good to say “I shouldn’t get angry”, or “It would be better if I acted Read more…