By Fouad Alaa


UNLESS the couple is good guy Greg and overly attached Amy, all couples are doomed to commit felony grade mistakes and fight.


If you are in a long-term relationship, especially during the co-habitative state, you should accept the fact that you and your partner will get on each other’s nerves regularly.


Everybody has an annoying trait that irritates the next person: Nagging, ranting, nail biting, open-mouthed chewing, snoring, random channel surfing, off-key singing, foot-tapping, etc. If you don’t think you can be annoying, then lack of self-awareness is your annoying trait.


There is an element of intimacy lodged in during every fight. Fights can tell a lot about a person: what sets them off, how they handle frustration, and how they mend emotionally. Therefore fighting can be taken as a building exercise rather than a black dot on your permanent record.


We may know and understand ourselves better than others, which is why our emotional issues make sense to ourselves since we know its source.


I have known myself for… pretty much my whole life, but my partner doesn’t know every single emotional issue I have. Given enough time and a healthy way to resolve issues can help us understand each other better and maybe even benefit from the different perspective.


Big things have small beginnings


Have you ever had one of those arguments where your partner has teleported you from a state of comfort to the frontlines of combat for forgetting to take out the trash or leaving a mess in the room? While that argument may be about the trash or the mess, it is actually more about respect, space or power.


The argument is almost never about the immediate issue at hand, but rather an emotional reason lying underneath. Arguing about money is not really about money, it is about power. Arguing about sex is not really about sexuality, it is about intimacy. Arguing about chores is not really about chores, it is about fairness. Arguing about jealousy is not really about fidelity, it is about maturity.


But since arguing is logical in nature, it breaks down when we apply it to emotions which is why we are more comfortable yelling about the mess rather than power, intimacy, fairness or maturity.


Just a couple of days ago before I went to work my girlfriend started in at me about how messy the room was and how I had been neglecting chores. I said that since I did the cooking then she should do the cleaning up; and so began the argument of January the 18th.


After we sat down and talked more about the issue when things cooled down, I understood that she didn’t really have much of a problem with the mess, but rather that she felt that it was unfair and that it was exacerbated by stress from her job hunting.


The important thing to figure out is the underlying reason for the argument, and that dealing with the emotional side of the argument is just as important, if not more, as the logical side.


Fight the good fight!


Never go to bed angry, stay up and fight! One of the worst things that can happen is dragging the argument to the next day. Cooling things down may result in repressed feelings without addressing the core issue.


As long as there are no objects thrown or hitting, anything goes. Release the emotional tension and address what is upsetting you; slam doors if it would help, the important thing is to reveal the issue in order to solve it. Can you get three hours of sleep after the issues are resolved and still be ok at work? Yes, you can!


Personally I am too impatient to be able to engage in a fight for days, I feel compelled to dissect the problem immediately to resolve the issue because I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything otherwise. My girlfriend, however, prefers to take a break from the fight to cool off and resolve her issues on her own. So to her, my approach is like hammering the C*** out of S*** to freakin’ death.


People have different approaches to resolving arguments just like they have different styles of fighting:


The Boxer: Goes 12 continuous rounds until the fight is over and he/she can go home.

The Avenger: Neither forgives nor forgets until present and past issues are resolved.

Take a hike!: Takes a break until issue is repressed or better mood is restored.

The Smiley Face: Passive-aggressive until provoked to resolve the issue.

The Forgiver: Lets bygones be bygones.


In my case, I would be ‘the Boxer’ and she would ‘Take a Hike’. I would want to solve the issue together now, while she would prefer to take a break and deal with it herself. So we came up with a one-day fighting rule where we take a break if needed, provided we are on the same premises.


The end result is that no issue takes more than a day to be resolved, and we develop mutual respect for each other’s fighting styles.


No matter how many hours resolving an issue might take, there is no reason why we can’t play nice outside the ring. Other than arguing, we still need to eat or get things crossed off our to-do-list and mutual daily activities (like eating, grocery shopping, etc.). It helps us refresh, restore, or at least ease, the tension.


On the way back from dinner my girlfriend and I had a heated argument. Remembering that we forgot to buy groceries, we went to the supermarket and while asking casual questions (in neutral tones) about what we needed to buy, the tension eased up a bit and we were able to talk things through. By the time we got home everything was great.


Post-fight rituals


The outcome of an argument, if resolved maturely, can be rewarding. After every fight, a small talk about how well the argument went, or even giving each other scores, would give positive reinforcement and motivation to look forward to resolving issues in the future.


Having a nice dinner or watching a movie together helps convert the mood from post-fighting awkwardness to an opportunity for a romantic date night. But showing appreciation towards each other’s understanding and acknowledgement of each other’s improvements is the perfect indirect apology; the purple heart of relationships.


For me, being in a healthy long-term relationship is like being in a lab creating two adults. Every fight presents an opportunity for growth and a chance for more intimacy in a relationship. It’s only a matter of choice on how we can take the most advantage out of the fights to nurture ourselves and make it to the other side.

Photo credit: APF/Relaxnews ©auremar/
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3 Responses

  1. susan mccann says:

    Totally agree with you about looking at the deeper issues that underlie the real cause of upset. My Grandmother gave me this same good advice, “Never go to sleep on an argument” So many people allow arguments to fester, we all see ourselves as the ones that are hurt, or have a real issue that the other person cannot understand. If we carry on with this way of thinking then the p;roblem just escalates. We need to look at it from each others point of view, but this is so difficult when we are pent up with negative emotion. Your article shows that if we are able to resolve our issues we will indeed have a deeper understanding of how the other person is feeling and thinking. Which as you say can enhance a relationship and often make it stronger. We need to learn to appreciate each others emotional needs and show how much we care for each other by trying our best to understand each other. Thanks for a thought provoking post that will resonate we the majority of us.

  2. Verónica Brannon says:

    Don’t go to be angry? Sometimes I go to bed angry or upset. At home when an argument arises everything gets silent. There’s no violence or shouting just the frustration of the silence. Things get resolved after a while though. 🙂
    I guess we fall into the ‘take a hike’ category.

  3. Ian Hicken says:

    Great insight into a common problem for many couples.

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