The Benefits of Fighting
by Kat Richter

Lego couple having a fight.

We're taught from childhood not to fight. We're taught to share, to be nice, to not say anything at all if we don't have something nice to say. And while these tactics are all well and good for avoiding time outs, they're not actually the healthiest approach to maintaining a mature relationship.

Are we suggesting you and your partner schedule regular blow outs? Absolutely not. In fact, if you find yourselves fighting on a regular basis, you really ought to consider seeking professional help or ending the relationship. But you shouldn't allow your fear of "rocking the boat" keep you and your partner from hashing it out once in a while. Because believe it or not, fighting can actually be good for your relationship.

Why? Read on to find out.

Release Pent up Anger

Let's face it: sometimes, fighting feels good. Whether you've had a rough day at the office or a sleepless night thanks to your partner's incessant snoring, you're itching to get it out. You want to yell. You want to scream. And even though you don't actually mean to take your anger out on the person you love, sometimes you just can't help yourself.

Does this make you a terrible person? No. It makes you human. We'll be discussing how to fight constructively in another lesson but for now, stop trying to control your feelings. You can control your actions but you can't help the fact that you're angry.   

Bring Issues to the Surface

Fighting with your partner can help bring unresolved issues to the surface. It can be uncomfortable for some people, especially if you were raised in a household where issues were simply swept under the rug to avoid disturbing the peace, but disagreements are a fact of life. They're going to happen and if you keep sweeping things under the rug, you're going to wind up with a one heck of a tripping hazard. It's better to deal with issues as they arise, rather than ignoring them until they're too big to tackle.

Identify Your Issues

Fighting can also help you identify issues you may be having with your partner and your relationship. If you just sit around sulking, there's a good chance you'll never actually get to the root of the problem. Is it sex? Is it finances? Is it stress? Who knows. Fighting, however, can serve as a catalyst to get you and your partner talking. And once you start talking, you'll be better equipped to indentify the cause of your unhappiness.

Work Towards a Resolution

It's not easy, but fighting with your partner can help you work towards a resolution. Once you've had the chance to share what you're feeling, you'll probably find that your desire to punch a hole through the wall has dissipated.   You might still be angry but at least now your partner knows how you feel so you can start releasing your anger and working towards a constructive solution to the problem.

You'll never experience this release, however, if you keep your anger pent up inside. And as long as you're angry, you won't be ready to move on.

Grow Closer

It sounds counterintuitive but fighting can actually help you grow closer as a couple. Consider this: if you and your partner find yourselves frolicking along the beach in utter bliss every moment of every day, will you ever really get to know one another Probably not. Will you learn how to help your partner work past his or her vulnerabilities and insecurities? Nope. Will you be able to face a difficult situation with the knowledge that you've gotten through tough times before? No.
   
Fighting can be scary. You might worry that you'll lose your partner, or that you'll end up getting violent with one another or saying things to each other that you'll never be able to forgive. These are all valid concerns - fighting can be dangerous and too much of it will poison your relationship - but at the end of the day, fighting is a natural human behavior and it can help you grow closer to your partner.

Homework

  • Talk to your partner about your feelings towards confrontation. Did you grow up in a household of constant bickering or were you taught to keep the peace? Try to keep your different attitudes toward confrontation in mind the next time you get pissed off at one another.
  • Make time to air your grievances. Sit down with your partner once a week to talk about things that are bothering you before they become too big to handle.
  • Allow yourself to get angry. Take out your frustrations on a pillow or stuffed animal if you have to but don't forget why you're angry in the first place. Once you're done hashing it out, tell your partner that you'd like to talk.
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