Happy couples fight! And it can lead to better communication and healthier relationships. But not all fights are good fights! Sexologist Dr. Jess explores how to fight less and love more with her special guest John Kim, The Angry Therapist.
Dr. Jess asks John, how do we differentiate between good functional conflict versus toxic conflict?
“Any conflict that doesn’t produce relationship glue or safety can destroy relationships. It’s not about if you agree or not, its about how you communicate and the conflict itself is a way to get closer,” explains John. “Any type of conflict that isn’t resolved can become pebbles in your shoe. When you’re angry with someone, it’s very hard to want to be intimate with them.”
John has three rules when it comes to fighting fair:
Try to understand before trying to be understood
Use “I” statements
What can you own?
For those people who struggle with reacting instead of responding, John recommends putting a emotional speed bump so you can take a breath and before you react, thing about how your comments are going to impact the other person.
Hot Tip! When your heart rate rises, it can be physiologically flooding and impair your judgment. Use your breath to slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure.
Inhale for 4…hold for 4…exhale for 4
Do this four time to self-soothe and calm your nerves before returning to an intense conversation.
The big question that Dr. Jess asks is how couples can stop having the same fight over and over again!
Being aware that you’re having the same fight repeatedly is the first way to break the cycle.
“Most fights keep happening because they aren’t resolved. People can disagree but than you need to agree to disagree,” says John.
John admits that we are often kinder to other people than ourselves, so we need to practice self compassion. Don’t ignore the relationship that you’re working on with yourself, in addition to the relationship your working on with your partner.
Hot Tip! Don’t avoid conflict. Conflict avoidance can be good for minor issues, but avoiding conflict entirely usually involves suppressing emotions.
…which is associated with weaker social ties and lower relationship satisfaction.
“Is it true that you should never go to bed angry? My wife always wants to talk it out and resolve arguments at night and I’d rather go to bed and let clearer heads prevail. Can you settle this for us?” ~ Tony
Dr. Jess says it’s okay to go to bed angry, but you don’t want to go to sleep without expressions of love and commitment.
“Let them know that you’re committed to resolving the issue later,” she says. “For example, you can say I want you to know I’m upset, but I love you and want to resolve this in the morning.”
- Talk about why you want what you want
- Communicate your feelings to your partner
To watch Season 2, Episode 11 or all the Intimately You episodes, visit TSC.ca/IntimatelyYou
Ask Dr. Jess! Wondering what product to buy? How to use it? Looking for relationship advice in the bedroom? Whatever your question, Dr. Jess is sure to have an answer! She excited to answer your questions, so don’t be shy! You can submit your question discreetly on TSC.ca/IntimatelyYou or by leaving a comment on the blog!