You’re in a couple in love, so, you’re going to fight sometimes. Arguing in your relationship is healthy. Being able to exert your differing opinion—with respect—is a sign that you’re in a full-blown, grown-ass, and, actually happy, relationship.
Still, there are a few things that you probably don’t have to start WW III over.
Jessica O’Reilly, a.k.a. Dr. Jess, a sexologist and relationship expert, and author of The New Sex Bible, shares with us five of the issues that you should stop fighting about in your relationship, and how you can stop screaming at each other’s faces and get back to eating each other’s faces instead.
“We often start fights because we’re looking to feed our ego’s hunger, which is motivated by anger or frustration,” says Dr. Jess. “Ask yourself if you’re really looking to resolve a particular issue (and if so, what is the issue at hand) or are you seeking to soothe the basic needs of your ego?”
Often times your ego will come out when you’re not feeling safe or validated, so make sure you’re building a solid foundation of trust with your partner. This means learning about each other’s emotional trigger areas (your shitty boss, her up-and-down relationship with her parents, for example) and recognizing which buttons require less pushing and more soothing.
One minute you’re talking about how awesome House of Cards is, and the next thing you know, you think she’s dissing your Netflix queue and so you lash out. Meanwhile, she simply meant that she was surprised you liked Kevin Spacey so much since you hated American Beauty.
“Pick your battles,” says Dr. Jess. “When you’re dealing with coworkers, friends or your children, you likely let the little things go. Do you do the same with your partner or do you blow off steam at every possible opportunity?” She reminds us that, “Life is not perfect, but you have a choice as to how you perceive annoyances. You can brush them off or put energy into focusing on the negative. The former will make for a more harmonious relationship with yourself and with others.” The latter will probably find you sleeping on the couch for the night.
The Little Things
Does your boo have a habit of not cleaning up after herself in the kitchen? Does she leave her clothes strewn across your well-organized, type-A bedroom? Those things are annoying, yes, but are they worthy of an argument? Probably not.
But when that does happen, heed Dr. Jess’ advice: “Think of one thing you love about your partner. The next time you find yourself annoyed by a wet towel on the floor or irritated over the dishes in the sink, shift your focus to something nice your partner does for you.” Because you know she puts up with your annoying little habits too.
Getting Stuck in a Rut
When you’ve been with someone for a while, it’s easy to take her for granted. You know your favourite weekend dinner spot, and you know the sex routine that leaves both of you satisfied. Your relationship doesn’t have that same spark it once did, so you get bored and you start picking fights. It happens.
So in order to squash those squabbles, Dr. Jess wants you to remember how lucky you are to be in love . . . and to have access to that ass. “Let go of the little frustrations and avoid the petty fights by stopping to look at your partner as a sexy beast,” she says. “Does she leave little globs of toothpaste in the sink? Think of her best physical asset while you clean them out. Did she drag mud all over the kitchen floor after walking the dog? Let it go as you fantasize about her cute butt.”
You’re Not the Same Person
You’re two different people, so you’re not going to see eye-to-eye on everything, and that’s perfectly okay. “Accept that you can’t resolve everything,” says Dr. Jess. “You don’t have to resolve every issue. You will not resolve every issue . . . Learn to let things go. Some couples are so focused on resolving every little issue that they spend more time fighting and making up than they do enjoying one another.”
Sometimes your issues will go unresolved over the relationship, but “you can still have a satisfying relationship despite these challenges,” says Dr. Jess. “Relationships are a partnership—you will clean up after one another, make up for another’s shortcomings and eventually find a balance to live happily ever after.”
Brianne Hogan is a freelance writer based in Toronto, something of a humorist, and considers herself more Bridget Jones than Samantha Jones. Though she won’t reveal which parts, she will admit to liking emotionally unavailable men and drinking lots of wine. You can follow her on Twitter @briannehogan.
Photo courtesy of flickr.