When two individuals decide to live with each other, occasional fights and disagreements are bound to happen. Both partners come with their own beliefs. If either partner finds some of these unacceptable or unreasonable, it can lead to disengagement. Disagreements on issues that may seem harmless to one partner may be of great importance to the other.

A significant indicator on the health of a relationship is how partners handle fights or disagreements. Healthy and fair fights strengthen a relationship. Dealing with such conflicts calls for patience, maturity and the desire and intention to resolve it as amicably as possible. This resolution may include acknowledging the difference, apologizing for the hurt a particular behaviour caused or agreeing to disagree. Being able to do this is not rocket science. Here are a few simple steps in altering your communication style to sustain the relationship you desire.

Actively listening to your partner. You may hear what your partner is saying but are not actively listening if you do not comprehend the issue at hand or assume that you already know what is being said and have a solution ready. It will help your relationship if you actively listen, only interrupting to clarify your understanding. Sometimes your partner may just want to vent or just be heard. This approach works better if you ask your partner their expectations – do they want a response or just like to be heard.  

Both Mayank’s and Meeta’s families were in acceptance of their live-in relationship which was entering its sixth year. Meeta would dread Mayank’s sister Neha’s visits. She found her overbearing and disrespectful. If Meeta had her way she would not want Neha to visit, but knew that she was special for Mayank. Neha would always misbehave with Meeta, but never in Mayank’s presence. Meeta tolerated her yearly visits in silence; however the fourth time around she lost her patience and decided to share this uncalled disrespect behaviour with Mayank. She told Mayank that it was not a blame game and that it was getting unbearable and not talking about it would impact what they share. Mayank actively listened, he heard her out and hugged her thanking for refraining from creating a scene and for respecting his relationship with the sibling. They jointly decided that Meeta would travel during Neha’s future visits, which she does now.

When faced with a challenge calm your partner by practising active listening, paraphrasing their points to show them that you have understood them. Practicing active listening can resolve issues before they become irreconcilable.

Talk about it. Often, problems are magnified by silence. May be because neither you nor your partner are comfortableexpressing your emotions Like it or not communication is critical for sustaining a long and healthy relationship. No one can read your mind and a respectful confrontation can be constructive. It may take an effort but mastering the art of conversation in your relationship is rewarding.

Radhika and Rahul had been married for two years. Both were professionally successful. Rahul overheard Radhika telling a friend that she was ready to be a parent, which Rahul was not. Oddly, they had never had a discussion on this topic and hearing this threw a curve ball at him. He was nervous and started distancing himself from Radhika. These dynamics continued for a couple of months which put a strain on their previously perfect relationship. Radhika was confused, as Rahul had shut himself up, not sharing what bothered him. Fed up and frustrated, Radhika told Rahul that she was not sure if they should continue this relationship. Rahul did not want to lose her. He confessed to overhearing her conversation and that he was not ready to have children. Radhika broke down crying and laughing at the same time. She hugged and told him that they could have avoided all those months of emotional heartburn if only he had talked about it, she calmed him and said it was just a conversation and that being a parent has to be decided by both.

Silence or avoiding addressing the problem usually causes passive aggression or an uncalled-for blame game between the partners, leading to further disagreements and intensified fights. So, learning to communicate with your partner is important.

Your feelings are valid, express them. If something makes you upset (or happy), express it to your partner. This can range from something they said or did to a sex move — EXPRESS how you feel! 

Arushi and Arnav had been in a relationship for three years. But when Arushi moved to America on a job assignment, long-distance relationship put a strain on their relationship. They would talk only on weekend, for Arushi, she was in a new country all by herself, with work stress, house chores, and the time difference between India and America did not help. Arnav tried to be as supportive as he could, but it was impacting him and the more he supressed his feelings, thinking they were irrelevant, the more it troubled him till one day he expressed his insecurities to Arushi. Arushi responded that now she knows how he feels they should work out a solution that gets them to meet often to reduce the emptiness.

Artem Sapegin / Unsplash

Stop the blame game. Practice acceptance. Remember: Both lose out in fight, these battles have no winner. If you accept that both are invested in the relationship, then you can always find a solution. You and your partner both will have your own way of dealing with situations.  Understanding and accepting your differences is critical. A relationship is built over of time with immense patience and effort from both partners. 

Arun and Anita lived in the same city as their respective families. Though they lived away from the family both sets of parents were extremely interfering which led to occasional fights around ‘your’ and ‘my’ family in the two years of their married life. It was only when a friend who was visiting overheard the fight, intervened and things changed for the better, as they both reflected on the reasons for their clash. The friend told them that if family interference continued their relationship would not. He advised them to relocate to a new city to focus on making a life with each other. They did so, they moved to a new city and life is going great for them.

Work on controlling your emotions. Your partner is in the wrong — whatever might be the reason — even in an emotional outburst it is important to have a control over how you communicate. Not being able to do so when dealing with situations that annoy you can result in uncontrollable disagreement. There is a fine line between an altercation and extreme rudeness. It is your responsibility to know and respect that line, that is, if you seek a long-lasting meaningful relationship. 

Sara and Dev knew each other since their school years. They knew that they would like to spend the rest of their lives together. Dev knew Sara had a short temper, but he did not experience the intensity until they started living together. In her rage Sara would become violent, throw things, and even scream at Dev in public. Dev tried to tolerate her behaviour, but it was getting unbearable and he was contemplating breaking up but then saw a positive change in Sara which saved the relationship. The change happened because Sara’s mother pointed out her misbehaviour during her visit. Sara wanted to work on herself to save the relationship with Dev and was ready to take professional help if required.

Alert: When getting into a new relationship, if you see the red flags of rage, refrain from continuing the relationship or give it a break. Suggest that your partner work on themselves. 

The secret to a happy and content long lasting relationship is both partners contributing equally. 

We end this piece with a sure shot activity that will only cement your relationship, making it stronger with each passing day. Pen down daily one positive feature about your partner — do this even on days when you are upset with them, doing so consistently will make you realise and respect what you have going for you.