By Jared Rigsby
Fighting is good, yelling is better, and never holding back in your relationship is best. At least, this is how Dr. Bob and Judith Wright describe the healthiest relationships in their book The Heart of the Fight: A Couple’s Guide to 15 Common Fights, What They Really Mean & How They Can Bring You Closer. Judith Wright has been called the “World’s Ultimate Expert” by Woman’s World Magazine, and her husband Bob is a communication columnist for Entrepreneur.com. This means it’s a sure bet that these two know all too well the trials that come with long-term relationships.
These Eight New Relationship Rules Can Strengthen Your Bond: "If you're not willing to fight it out with your partner, then you're failing to grow your relationship," says Dr. Judith Wright. "But don't bicker for the hell of it," adds her husband and co-author, Dr. Bob Wright. "Do it purposefully, and recognize that out of conflict and emotional expression comes strength and closeness. Here's why . . ."
Want a Great Love? Then Don't Be Afraid To:
- Rock the Boat. Don't hold back when something is bothering you because you're afraid to make waves in your relationship. Even if you always pretend that all is well in the universe of your relationship, it often isn’t. Think about ways you try to keep things on an even keel and, instead, challenge your relationship; it's the only way to grow stronger as a couple. If this sparks a fight, don't shy away from it.
- Talk about the Big Stuff Daily. Thriving couples talk about more than what's for dinner and who's picking up the kids from practice. They talk about their dreams, their goals, their fears. Talking about the "big stuff" creates a sense of shared purpose. Schedule one non-logistic talk daily, even five minutes is enough. There has to be more to life than the daily schedule.
- Argue Early and Often. Don't let fights fester; they only get messier and harder to unpack. Tough, honest, angry fights are more helpful in the long run than bottling up your upsets. Even minor annoyances can build up to bigger issues. Haven't had a fight in a week? You're getting behind. It might be time to . . .
- Pick a Fight! Don't wait for explosions. Picking a fight consciously, when you're not already in the heat of the moment, can be productive and liberating. Be sure to use the rules of engagement and know what you want to get out of it before you bring it up. This allows issues to be vented without the added anxiety of anger and intensity.
- Be Real, Not Careful. Stop editing yourself or sugarcoating your points because you're afraid of upsetting your partner. If you're mad, show it. If you need something, ask for it. Be vulnerable, be messy and be yourself, even if that means taking off your kid gloves.
- DO Sweat the Small Stuff. Contrary to most relationship advice, you SHOULD sweat the small stuff. Everything matters. Satisfied couples address the bumps in the road rather than creating detours around them. Deal with the little problems before they become more complex.
- Keep Your Standards High. Don't settle for less because you don't want to be disappointed. Expect a lot from your partner and your relationship. Sure, high standards can spark disagreements, but they also push the relationship forward rather than allowing it to languish.
- Follow the Highest Denominator. The happiest couples share power and decision-making. Recognize each other's superior competence in certain areas and defer accordingly. Having a fight about chores, money, or how to accomplish something? Assess who has the higher standard or is more skilled in this area and follow the highest denominator.