There's a right way and a wrong way and a terrible way to lay the verbal smackdown on the one you love. Hint: None of the Kardashians are doing it right. Stop keeping up with them. Oh, you're not keeping up with them? Look, I didn't say you were. I just thought you might be. Ok fine, that was more for me than for you. I'll stop keeping up with everyone. See, I'm admitting my faults here. Another fault? I've used the Kardashians as a punchline like a jillion times in my life and I don't intend on stopping. Whew, I feel so much better. That was a good fight, wasn't it?
Want to have more good fights? Follow these do's and don'ts and avoid a trainwreck!
DO: Use "I" statements.
"I … think you've been the worst.
"I … need you to not continue being the worst.
"I … would really like it lots if you stopped doing things the way the worst people in the world do them. That would be helpful."
See? "I" statements highlight the problem from your perspective, and help you use your words to express how and why your person is being ridiculous. Now they understand that when they're being the worst, you're affected too.
DON'T: Keep black marks on your cold, cold checklist of mental anguish.
We get it, you want to keep an ever-growing scroll of misdeeds, so when the time comes, you can unfurl the parchment and read them aloud to a jury of peers and hangmen and goblins and people who will always be on your side. But! You can't. If you're annoyed at your person for clipping their nails in public or calling broccoli rabe "broccoli robby," just say it. Maybe wait for an appropriate moment to bring it up*, but do say it.
DO: Accept people for who they are.
Say you're driving with friends and you happen to be in the front seat and your person's in the back seat. He reaches for and holds your hand through the gap between the passenger seat and the driver's seat. It makes you want to Hulk out because it's so ridiculous. I mean, you were born with two hands so you want to have them both at your disposal at all times. That's fine! That's something you can kindly ask your person to try not to do because it bothers you. BUT, if you're annoyed that your boyfriend doesn't like to watch Glee with you and would rather go outside and camp or like wrestle eagles, you know, whatever it is outdoors people like to do … it's probably a lost cause. They are outdoorsy and you are not. Embrace it, toss a couple of carabiners their way (nature people need those), and catch up with them later.
DON'T: Try to make it Summer Slam 2012.
That is to say, your couple fight is not a team sport. Don't do it in front of your friends, don't share private texts with others, don't try to get other people to be mad at her, too, and don't post passive-aggressively on Facebook like "*sigh* just don't understand why it's so hard sometimes." Don't loop other people in because most of them just don't care. Yes, of course they love you. But for real, no one needs to be involved in that drama. They don't have any lines in your play anyway.
DO: Get Hulk Smash Hands.
When you're mad, put them on. If you try to fight with Hulk Smash Hands on and you can't because you're laughing? You're not that mad, you're just being a fussy baby who wants to throw his toys out of the crib. If you stay mad with Hulk Smash Hands on? You're really mad. Also, though, don't hit anyone ever.
DON'T: Forgive unless you're sure you can forget.
It's not fair to continue punishing your person for eating all your chips if you've said you've forgiven them already. If every time you open a new bag of chips, you're actually opening up a whole world of pain like, "Can I eat these now? Are these ok for me to eat or are you going to swoop in like an owl and snatch all my chips away in your talons? Because I'm hungry for some chips and I want to know if I can enjoy these Baked Lays without your interference. And you KNOW what I'm talking about" — that's not what forgiving is. That's actually a life sentence. Don't forgive them until you're truly able to put this horrible chip incident behind you both. If you can't forgive, break up.
*DO: Wait until you're alone.
Remember that "appropriate moment to bring it up" thing I mentioned earlier? When the two of you are alone = the appropriate moment to bring it up. If your person makes you mad whilst you're trying to enjoy a lovely day at the Renaissance Faire with your pals, don't be sad. Grab a giant turkey leg and slap a smile on your face. Don't let it ruin your good time. When you get home and you're still pissed, bring it up. If you're not? Let it go.
DON'T: Shoot to kill.
Yes—"I didn't really appreciate the way you made fun of my harem pants in front of Louis. You know he's never going to stop calling me 'Sultan' now."
No—"I should've known better than to expect someone who peed their pants last year after baseball practice to understand fashion. You ruined your pants, don't ruin mine."
Yikes. Embarrassing secrets go in your couple vault. Don't let it out to punish or embarrass because that's known as jerkface behavior. And none of us are jerks.
DO: Everyone a favor and break up, if you're miserable.
If you guys fight 95% of the time, that's not fun. You can find someone who makes you just as happy without all the fisticuffs. Relationships are really lovely if you're with the right person. Besides, you have plenty of time to be miserable when you're married and legally bound to each other. Just kidding, guys.
Got any tips for minimizing the awfulness of SO arguments? Share 'em in the comments!