Some people think that having a fight with your partner once in a while is a good thing. Releasing some pent-up aggression and being able to direct it at a person who can be blamed for all that is wrong with the world can feel pretty good. However, fighting won't really solve the problem that caused the conflict in the first place. In the same way, it's also not fair that someone in a marriage becomes a punching bag. So if you find that you need to fight every six months or two years (about the same thing again and again) or if every fight sort of feels like the last one, then you’re going around in circles. You’re just fighting, not resolving.
Conflicts are opportunities for growth. The presence of conflicts doesn’t mean you chose your partner incorrectly. The presence of conflicts doesn’t mean someone is wrong or someone intends to hurt. If you give it a chance, conflicts can show you how different you are from your partner, which can provide you an opportunity to reach out over the chasm of fear, insecurity, and vulnerability to understand each other more. So while you do have to fight and face conflict, you shouldn't fight each other. Fight your own fears, insecurities, and anxieties—about yourselves and your idea of marriage—so that you can resolve whatever it is that makes you and your loved one unhappy.
It’s not easy, but isn't saving your relationship worth it? Below are a few tips to help you and your partner handle conflicts.
(First published as "Fighting for Love" in the Good Family section of Good Housekeeping Philippines' July 2011 issue. Adapted for use in Female Network. Screencap from The Five-Year Engagement courtesy of Universal Pictures.)