First Rule of The Marriage Club? Learn How To Fight

photo by Don DeBold, Flickr Creative Commons

Initially, when a couple is learning new relationship/communication skills, the practice can feel exhausting, draining, depleting. Hours and hours (even days) can be spent trying to work through a small conflict or misunderstanding. This is a normal “stage” and a couple must move through this in order to get to the next stage. Yet, this is where many couples bail on the work.

Often one person (typically the more masculine partner) gets tired and starts to label their fights as “more drama.” This person usually complains that their partner is too sensitive or too emotional. They complain that the relationship is just too much “work.” They say things like “It shouldn’t be this hard.” Or “I’m game for reconnecting as long you stop making a big deal out of everything.” “Why do you have to be so emotional?” In my office I often hear or see this person roll their eyes at yet another fight or disagreement. “Can’t we just get along already?” Their frustration continues to increase. While their plight is understandable, it’s another excuse why they are unable or unwilling to do the work themselves.

But if, and when, they get in their warrior seat and choose to stick with the “hard work,” (with super solid guidance) they will invariably learn how to take responsibility for their experience and come out stronger, more connected to themselves, and more mature in relationship, which, regardless of whether or not the relationship continues, is a win win. Like anything, if you want to master something, or even feel competent, confident, and appreciate how you show up, it takes work. No way around it folks. A long-term, conscious relationship is work, period. And in my experience, relating in this way will provoke the darkest, most dreadful places in myself. Feeling all of that repressed gunk that I stuffed my whole life can be excruciating. I get it. That’s why most folks don’t do it. But let’s take the view that you signed up for this journey. Let’s also remember, you always have a choice.

The initial frustrating stage can and does change for anyone committed to the work. Eventually a couple can burn through issues/fights in a relatively short amount of time. Conflict can even feel enlivening, nourishing, and rejuvenating leaving us all closer and more connected. It’s possible.

1 Comment

  • Kate

    Reply Reply October 1, 2013

    LOVE this post, Jayson. My partner and I have been stuck in that initial “stage” you describe for almost two years. In our dynamic, he is by far the more masculine partner and has often made the kind of comments you mention in the second paragraph of this post. I am wondering how long I need to be patient about growing through this stage with him or whether I should just say, “You are not willing/able to do your own work right now. That’s okay, but I need a partner who is willing to do their own work.”

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