Following in line with the blog from a few weeks ago, 50 Ways to Ruin a Relationship, this post will give you 7 great ways to increase fighting. You may be thinking, “Why would I want to increase fighting?” That’s a good question. I’m yet to find a good answer. Typically, people fight because they want to feel loved and safe… sounds crazy that we want to feel loved and safe so we start screaming at someone doesn’t it? But this is what we do. As a marriage therapist I regularly see this. In front of me are 2 people desperately wanting to feel loved and safe, so they rip into each other with “You did this,” and the other person goes “Well you did that,” back and forth, back and forth like verbal tennis. It never ceases to amaze me that after a bit of a back and forth I’ll ask both of them: “When you yelled that at your partner how did you think they’d respond?” (client) “Ummmmmm.” (me) “I’m going to guess that what you really want is to feel like the other person cares about you.” (clients) “Yeah.” (me) “So how good do you think your plan to yell is going to work?” The unfortunate reality is everyone is capable of falling into this trap of just spewing words because we’re hurt and upset when really what we want is to feel loved. Thus, here is a list of 7 ways I regularly see couples act that increases fighting shared in a sarcastic way:
- Always Defend Yourself: When someone is upset, there is nothing that will tick them off more than if you try to explain why you did something. They couldn’t care less why you did it. They just want you to show that you’re sad you upset them. So to increase fighting never show remorse; just defend yourself. An unapologetic sorry always adds to the fight too.
- Raise Your Voice: This classic move feels natural, so do it. You’re almost guaranteed to get the other person to raise their voice in response. As you amp up your voice with each attack, get right into the other person’s face for a full threatening experience.
- Text: If you really want amp to up a fight, start it over text by sending a flood of messages, especially if they’re busy at work. The more the merrier.
- Complaints are Gold: Everyone hates complaints against them, so keep a list handy to whip out for attacking. The best time to bring out your list is when you’re in a fight. Never bring up a problem when things are calm because it might get resolved. And remember, complaints are like wine, they get better with age. The further back you can go the better it is for ticking off the other person: “Remember 5 years ago when you…” (good). “Remember 10 years ago when you…” -(great). “Remember 20 years ago when you…” (best). Complaints are important because making a request might resolve the problem. Asking someone to do a preferred behavior rather than complaining about what they do without a suggestion of what you’d prefer will ruin your chances of fighting.
- Emotionally Weak: When you need to bring up a sensitive topic wait until the other person is emotionally weak like when they’ve just got home and they’re tired from work, they’re about to fall asleep, or they’re anxious about something.
- Gather an Army: Before you have a fight, have a list of people you’ve given self serving information to in order to have a false sense of superiority. Amp up the fight by name dropping: (person 1) “She said you’re lucky to have me.” (person 2) “Well, the youth pastor told me to break up with you.” This always adds to the fight. Trust me; those two sentences were used in a fight with my first girlfriend when we first started dating and struggling to find safety. Instead of love we looked for a sense of power over the other person. Brilliant, I know.
- Hide from Conflict: Why address something when you can hide from it, especially if you can think it about it constantly and let it eat you up. Did I approach this youth pastor in the above situation to find out if and why he said this? Of course not; I let it fester, so I could resent him and eventually have our own fight about something totally unrelated.
Bonus: Hiding is great, but what’s even better is to engage in a fight and then try to hide. If you can randomly try leaving the room you will drive the other person crazy as they will feel abandoned, and add this to your list of screw ups. It’s a fantastic new fight topic.
There are many great ways to fight with your partner, but these are the top seven ways I’ve seen. That being said, I’m not just an observer in this, I’m also a participant. These are all things I’ve done and have to fight not to do again because it’s easier to be mean than self controlled, especially when we’re hurt.
Rev Chad David, www.ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people