FH & I used to fight like CRAZY. Seriously, it was awful. It was very early on in our relationship, and I knew we had to change because our relationship wasn’t going to last if we didn’t. Here’s what we did: (We came up with these sllllooooowly and over time.)
1) My most important thing to work on: I had to stop yelling. I liked to yell. It made me feel better– except for the fact that it wasn’t helping anything. It was ridiculous and no one ever told me before that I couldn’t yell at them. They (exboyfriends) would just put up with it or yell back. But not FH. He made it perfectly clear that I was not to yell at him, and though he loves me, he will not allow himself to be treated like that. (Not that I yelled all the time or anything, but it still wasn’t nice.)
2) His most important thing to work on: opening up– I needed him to discuss his feelings with me instead of getting pissed at me and not explaining to me why.
3) If one of us needs to step away to breathe, calm down & gather our thoughts, the other is not allowed to follow. (Very important– if I feel like I’m going to start yelling, so I walk away instead, don’t follow me– I’ve reached my limit.) But FH used to leave the house for hours and come back much later, and I didn’t like it– I’d like to have a few minutes to gather my thoughts and deal with the situation right away instead of bringing up the fight again hours later. So we decided that FH leaving the house during a fight was not appropriate because it didn’t allow us to address and solve the issue.
4) One of the most important things we have to remember: We love each other. We are not ever going to do something to each other just for the purpose of hurting each other. So that helped us to stop being so sensitive and realize that we make mistakes, but they are not ever intended to be hurtful.
5) We had to stop fighting to be right. That’s not what’s important in a relationship. If he did something to hurt my feelings, I would want an outright apology and basically for him to accept fault. But then I realized that I could be at fault as well, because I could have misunderstood his intention or whatever. And most of the times when we fight, we are both at fault. So instead of assigning fault, we figure out what went wrong and what can be done differently to avoid another similar fight.
6) Strive to be the bigger person. If you see that where he’s coming from is different from where you’re coming from, don’t continue to keep badgering him to get him to agree with you– it’s probably not going to happen. Better to say, “I see where you’re coming from. Maybe next time you can voice your opinion like this, opposed to the way you did it, so that I can understand it better. Anyway, do you agree to disagree? I love you too.” (Or whatever works for you.)
7) FH told me this once, and it took me a lonnnnggg time to get what he was saying: Anger is a secondary emotion. Basically, anger stems from some other emotion– embarrassment? Frustration? Hurt? Instead of getting angry, figure out where that anger is stemming from, and explain it to him. Did he say something that embarrassed you? Instead of getting pissed at him, explain to him that it embarrassed you. Which can be hard because it involves being vulnerable with him, and it’s hard to be vulnerable with someone when you feel like they hurt you on purpose. So then it’s back to #4, remember that, and be vulnerable– it’s better than being mad. This helped me so much to stop yelling.
8) Working on our relationship is our #1 priority (unless we actually have to be at work/ school). He’s supposed to be going out with the guys, but we’re “having a discussion?” He can be late. I’m supposed to go to the gym? Oh well, I’ll go after/ skip it. Our relationship is more important.
9) Last one: apologize when you’re wrong. So easy to say but so hard to do!
Anyway, sorry that was so long. But that’s what works for FH and me. And we haven’t had an awful fight like before in such a long time– it’s hard to think that we ever used to fight like that because how well we communicate now. Also, it has taken a lot of looking at myself (taking my own inventory, so to speak) and working on myself/ my own issues. And I had to trust that he was doing the same– working on himself/ his issues.
Good luck, and I know you can do it! It’s so worth it. HUGS