You probably remember the first big fight you had with your spouse.
It was exhausting, disheartening, and even scary. Seeing them at such a high, dark emotional level tore at you.
Maybe you felt like all was lost. Started to question why you chose them as your partner. Perhaps you started to wonder if you’d ever find happiness. If you even know how to. If you even deserve it.
Fights happen in every relationship, and the bad ones are always difficult to deal with and process. You’ll say and do things you don’t mean. You’ll think and feel things that you know aren’t true.
In the moment, you’re almost definitely going to mess up. That’s why the aftermath of a fight is so important.
From my own experiences and working with clients, a typical aftermath starts like this: You’re in separate rooms. You’re exhausted. And you’re feeling awkward, uncomfortable, angry, and a little ashamed at the same time.
The last thing you want is to spend more time thinking about the fight. But the aftermath of an altercation is an important building block. Understanding each other and finding solutions will help you find closure, move on from this conflict, and give you ideas for how to resolve disagreement in a more productively in the future.
Fights are not often viewed as a positive experience, but they give you the opportunity to learn, grow, and prevent problems in the future. Here are some suggestions for what to do in the aftermath of a fight:
- Take some time apart to calmly and independently review your actions, feelings, and reactions during the fight. What did you originally want to communicate? How did your feelings affect your communication? What did your partner say, and how did that affect you?
- Allow yourself and your partner to come to a calm state of mind before you discuss the incident. Discussing a fight in the wrong setting can easily turn into another conflict. If you find negative emotions coming to the surface, pause and take a deep breath. If you need to take a break while discussing the fight, let your partner know.
- Calmly explain the emotions you experienced during the fight and how they attributed to your reactions. Were you overwhelmed? Did you feel like you weren’t being listened to or attacked? Communicate your point of view, so your partner can step into your shoes and understand your words and actions.
- Give your partner the attention they gave you as they explain their point of view during the fight. Actively listen to them and respond appropriately.
- Discuss what you believe triggered the fight. In many cases, there’s not just one cause. How have you both been feeling emotionally? Have you felt pressured at work? Do you feel fulfilled in the different roles you play in your life? Are there past events or unresolved conflicts that contributed to your anger?
- If you fought about something that could surface again in the future, discuss your options for communicating and handling that issue. Creating a plan will give you and your partner a sort of “list of directions” for avoiding future fights.
- If nothing seems to solve the issue, seek help from a relationship coach. Having a third party as a mediator can enable you to see different perspectives and come to a compromise.
Fights do not have to ruin a relationship. In fact, they can be helpful, as they give you and your partner the opportunity to speak more openly about an issue that divides you and come to a resolution both of you can live with. Be confident in your ability to discuss these hard issues, and you can use a fight to grow and understand your partner on a deeper level.
Rooting for you!