I have talked a lot about the boundaries of fighting and how important it is to discuss them. I have talked about how we have eliminated yelling and how we have learned to defuse the situation. All of these things are important but I have realized for myself that I haven’t given much thought to the “post fight”. I’m not talking the minute right after the word “I’m sorry” is uttered, but when the emotions have completely died down and the most the negative feelings have fluttered away.
I am not saying fighting or disagreeing is bad, but there needs to be a sense of closures for both people. It is also necessary to make sure there are no lingering negative feelings. It is when I don’t deal with the “post fight” it’s like having an open wound in your relationship and not putting any bandaid over it to protect it. Just like any unprotected wound, it has the possibility of festering and becoming infected.
I wish I could articulate it better but there are so many things I have noticed in myself over the past few years of being in a relationship. Things that if I don’t do them I can sense the emotional distance between us. Some of these work for us, some of them we tried because trusted friends said it worked for them. This list may help you or it may lead you on a path to finding what you need to do for your relationship:
1. Say, “I’m sorry” For the Right Reasons: Of course most people apologize right after the heat of the moment but quite often I don’t know 100% of what I am sorry for. Yes I’m sorry I yelled, I’m sorry I was stubborn and became frustrated but it isn’t till I reflect on it that I realize what I am truly sorry for. I see the negative motivation: the selfishness, the impatience, the unrealistic expectations, and the bad attitude. It’s once I realize this that I give Rob a big hug and apologize again and this time for what really fueld the fight (very humbling… And it’s hard to admit all the reasons). We can’t control someone else’s actions but we can take responsibility for our own.
2. Make a Special Gesture: Quite often after a fight your partner feels just as frustrated and unappreciated as you do. I find Rob really appreciates if I go out of my way to do something special for him and it immediately softens him. It doesn’t have to be big: make him his favorite meal, give him a back rub, pick up his favorite treat at the grocery store, or plan a mini date night at home with his favorite “guy” movie and popcorn (with Rob, anything with food is always a win).
3. Physical Closeness: Some couples are all about the make up sex immediately after fighting. We have all seen it on tv and in movies that people just can flick a switch from pure frustration to passion… If you can do this then I want to send you a high five! For some reason I haven’t been able to do that. I have just had this height of emotion and I can’t flick that switch in my brain. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have a good cuddle that brings us so much closer and help heal the wound. If cuddling isn’t your thing than love do something that makes your partner feel loved whether that is quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, or acts of service. (If you have not googled “The 5 Love Languages” I totally recommend you do it now. There is a free online quiz that both you and your partner can do that explains your primary and secondary love language. http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/)
4. Forgive: this is the most important. There is a good chance you have every reason in the world to be angry but probably so does your partner. Holding onto anger is cancer in your relationship and is hazardous to your health. Forgiveness is a choice and sometimes we need to choose it multiple times for our feelings to follow. Again we are only responsible for our own action, your partner may not be in a forgiving mood but you can make the choice to be a forgiver.
Fights will happened, disagreements will happen, but it is all how we deal with those feelings after. Cleansing our bodies of negative feelings is one of the healthiest things you can do for you and your relationship. Being selfless and focusing on your partner’s feelings above your own is the quickest way to get rid of your own negativity!