How to Stop Incessant Fights from Ruining Your Relationship

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Do you sometimes feel unnecessary fights with your significant other are sapping the time and energy out of your life?

I know I did. Until less than a year ago the fights between me and my husband were quite literally incessant. Our weekends and holidays were completely dedicated to this favorite sport of ours. When we were too bored with our jobs we’d even keep the sweet nothings (somethings) flowing over the phone.

Like all addictions, this little hobby of ours also started taking its toll on our bodies and minds pretty quickly, not to mention our relationship. I think I’d have lost my sanity completely, if it wasn’t for something in me which woke up one fine morning and said, “I’ll not fight anymore, no matter what.”

This was not easy, as you’d know if you have any experience with fighting as a couple (and you do ;)). But if I had to keep an iota of my peace intact, I couldn’t afford not to take that firm decision.

It was then that I saw the dangerous Abysses of Logic we were drowning ourselves in, and fashioned my own strategy – the Deflection Technique – to eliminate them from our lives once and for all.
That’s what I’m going to talk about today.

What’s an Abyss of Logic?

Let’s take an example.

Jane: “Have you forgotten to water the plants again?”

John: “Jane, I hope you remember it’s you who’s been keeping too busy for the past two days to remember anything about picking up the groceries.”

A possible reply to this can be: “I know I forgot about groceries, but it’s not like we had to starve for it – we already had more than enough stuff. On the other hand if the plants are utterly neglected every day like this they’ll just die – there’s no fall back option, unlike in case of the groceries.”

You see what’s happening here? The “discussion” had started with Jane’s simple complaint about John’s negligence of the plants. Now it has moved to a new level – that of evaluating the relative risks posed to the family by the mistakes the two individuals make.

John will now retort: “Ah. So now we’re comparing your silly little plants with the most vital of our basic needs – food.”

With this, John has pushed this conversation beyond the point of no return. He has hit Jane where it hurts by trivializing something very close to her heart – the plants. This would wound Jane emotionally and she’d get into a frenzy of yelling and yapping and you know the rest.

That’s the Abyss of Logic – the use of apparently logically consistent argument to defend your position in a verbal wrestling match.

The Problem with the Abyss of Logic

 

Do you fight with your partner often? If yes, I can tell you that most of them are silly and meaningless. These fights don’t occur because you’re “right” and he/she is “wrong”. They occur because either of you try to take out your negative energy on the other. This negative energy can be produced by annoyances caused by your partner, or by completely external sources. (Be honest – have you never lashed out at your partner after having a bad day at work for no apparent reason?)  It can be tiny or all-encompassing. But whatever it is, a verbal assault on your partner is always about releasing the stress built up at that moment. Remember the following fact of life:

The only objective of silly fights is stress relief.

Ironically, taking your stress out on your partner doesn’t reduce but increase the overall stress in the system – by creating stress on your partner.

And what do they do as a result?

Release it back on you, of course!

But we’re sophisticated, rational beings. We don’t want to admit to ourselves and our partners that we’re releasing stress in the most primitive way – by fighting for the sake of fighting. And that’s when we make the biggest mistake in the history of silly fights. We pretend it’s a mature, logical discussion. Combining our animal need for stress release with our rational human selves ensures a perpetual stress build-up. Now the “discussion” can go on forever – the more opposing points of view someone is thrown the more stressed they get. But when they do their human prejudices kick in and they construct yet another sound logical argument to attack and release that stress. That’s the vicious cycle of silly fights in a relationship or marriage.

The Solution: The “Deflection Technique” 

 

Is there a way you can get out of this abyss? Of course – by not allowing the abyss to form in the first place. I call this the “Deflection Technique.” Remember the following principle:

If you want to dissolve stress, stay away from logic.

 

Sounds crazy?

Let’s apply this technique to Jane and John’s earlier conversation to see what I mean.

Jane: “Have you forgotten to water the plants again?”

John: “Jane, I hope you remember it’s you who’s been keeping too busy for the past two days to remember anything about picking up the groceries.”

Jane: “I never said anything about the groceries, John. I was wondering why the plants haven’t been watered – if it’s mere oversight or there’s any other reason.”

Note how Jane simply refuses to respond to the attack here. Thus, she’s deflected the accusation, thereby avoiding the build-up of the unnecessary logical steps.

“But won’t John, in return, refuse to respond to Jane’s accusation?” You might ask.

Of course he can. But if Jane resolves to apply the Deflection Technique consciously and consistently, irrespective of John’s response, she can dissolve the fight no matter what he says next. Here’s how:

Jane: “I never said anything about the groceries, John. I was wondering if it’s mere oversight or there’s any other reason why you haven’t watered the plants.”

John: “And I never said anything about the plants. I was making the point that you did forget the groceries.”

Jane: “It’s ok. I don’t want to fight with you. I was only concerned over the fact that the plants need watering which they’ve not received. It’s not something that big. It’s ok.”

The most powerful statement that Jane makes here is the following: “My objective is not to fight with you.”

When you say that to your partner, you say that to yourself, and thereby diffuse the built-up tension. Note how Jane has now completely eliminated all chances of fighting further by using the Deflection Technique once again. She’s done it all through restraint and maturity, and without the need for either of them to apologize.

Hence Deflection Technique is my strategy whenever I find myself facing a potential conflict with my significant other, irrespective of who started it. What’s yours? Let me know by leaving a comment.

Written on 5/29/2013 by Sulagna Dasgupta.  Sulagna Dasgupta is a relationships & personal development blogger. Her blog, www.loveinindia.co.in is India’s first dedicated relationships & marriage blog – with the mission to facilitate more open thinking about this topic in India in the long run. You can find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/letstalkrelationships. .

 

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