You want your relationship to succeed.
Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this post.
You want to experience the intimacy, the love, the connection, and the joy that once flowed so freely.
You want to reclaim the passion and excitement that once filled your relationship.
But there’s a problem…
You and the woman that you love are always fighting.
Whether you are arguing about the dishes, money, sex, the dog, or the color of the living room curtains (you’d be surprised how often this discussion leads to a fight), the incessant arguing, complaining, and bickering is wearing away at the fabric of your relationship and, if you don’t do something quickly, might erode the entire foundation.
Now… I want to make it clear that I am not perfect and I’m not some sort of relationships expert.
I’m just a guy who has had his fair share of wins and losses inside of dozens of amazing (and not so amazing) relationships.
And these are the lessons that I learned along the way.
1. Just Cut it Out Already and Make the Decision to Stop Fighting
I’m leaving the most simple answer right here at the top.
Read it over and over until it sinks in… Maybe even consider having it tattooed on your forehead.
Every time you hear your girlfriend comment on a topic that triggers this strong reaction in your head: “But … but … but …” answer back with “but nothing!”
You have the power within you to make the choice to not go to that negative space. Isn’t that what you tell your dog when he is about to start barking at another nearby pooch?
“Stop it. Stopppppp it!”
You don’t have to abandon that centered place of power and discernment within you when having a conversation. And you can remain centered by following a few simple rules.
Give Up the Need to Be Right
“Would you rather be right or happy?” ~A Course in Miracles
I know it may be hard to imagine, but there is a place where neither you nor your girlfriend has to be right. In fact, there exists an entire reality beyond right and wrong.
You won’t find that world in traffic court, on Facebook discussions, within school finals, or on a game show.
BUT your relationship isn’t any of these.
There are two people here with two very different ideas, viewpoints, and frames of references. One is a woman and one is a man, right? There will be differences.
Therefore the attempt to force a right and a wrong in the conversation will only create problems. So let it go, no matter how wrong her expression may sound to that rational, over-intellectual, fact-checking brain of yours.
Don’t Compete or Try To Win (You Can’t “Win” a Fight Like This Anyways)
Men love to compete. They love to get down and dirty and give it their all to win the game, defeat the opponent, destroy the competition.
Should you make that competitor your woman?
Should you try to win an argument?
Of course! If you want to quickly evolve yourself into a man with an “Ex Girlfriend”.
Because here’s a little secret… Even though you might have technically “Won” the argument, you didn’t actually accomplish anything in the long run because arguing and fighting never actually leads to resolution.
Here are some clues you won but didn’t win:
- Your girlfriend goes silent during dinner, offering only a “whatever” now and then.
- She gives you “the back” instead of being romantic.
- She brings up the conversation the very next day … with the exact same points to make.
- She gets quiet, says “I guess you’re right”, and storms out
Competition works well with male buddies who thrive on the same thing you do – polarizing, taunting, trash-talking, symbolically “sharpening your blade” by competing against a foe’s best.
You may believe this will be the same with your woman. However, with the competitive nature, you have turned your lover and sweetheart into an opposing enemy.
In general, women thrive in unifying relationship and intimacy.
Do you see how our personalities and relationship styles might conflict here?
Don’t Fuel The Fire.
You know what works when building a fire? Starter fluid, kindling, gasoline. You know what doesn’t work in relationship with a woman? Any of those things, unless you are building a warm bonfire for her benefit.
You can defuse rather than fuel the fire, by attempting to hear her expression … and it won’t make you any more wrong … or right. More on that coming up.
Don’t start the argument in the first place.
In a phrase … “Just leaaaave it.”
2. Stop Trying to be Understood and Seek to Understand
“Seek to first to understand then to be understood” ~Stephen Covey
This may feel like turning around a tanker on a dime, but the shift is possible.
You can shift from an aggressive opponent trying to make a point (or score a point) to a loving man who is compassionately listening intently to a girlfriend.
But it’s going to take some work.
It may not even feel natural, since the male brain (and ego) desperately wants a victor and a clear black-and-white scoreboard to reveal a final score.
However, there is no score in relationships with a woman, unless you count the number of dings you might have gained on your record … by fighting her.
Be glad you can completely shift the energy of a potential fight by moving out of attack mode and into listening mode.
In this mode, you attempt to see her side of things, not so that it makes her right over you, but validates her very human experience she is having. You don’t have to believe that her ideas or conclusions are true for you. You just have to make them not false for her.
And here’s a tough one. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ACT on what she is expressing. This is a very hard concept for a man to grasp, especially since men are built to take action on situations that need attention.
Without correcting her, shaming her, persuading her, debating her … what is left? Two things:
- A man who doesn’t need to defend anything.
- A man ready to be present for someone he cares about.
From the teachings of “Nonviolent Communication” – a set of models from master communicator Dr. Marshall Rosenberg – consider this when your significant other is speaking in an argumentative tone: What is she needing and feeling?
If you drill down to the basics of her needs and emotions, you need not get your defensive panties in a wad. You will hear a woman who is feeling something:
And you will hear a woman who is needing something:
- Signs of affection
You may want to, according to the NVC model, take a guess about what she is feeling and needing. However – WARNING. You take a lame-ass guess at it, and you may stir up a sense of more disconnection. “Are you feeling horny because you are needing some sex right now?” Zonk!
I’d say start at shifting into that mode of listening at first, before making any grandiose statements, and this shift could be enough.
She will be able to tell you have changed your context, given up on fighting and shifted into a state of mind that will accept her and love her.
And that may be all she was needing in the first place.
3. Reframe the Conversation
When a man is in fight-or-flight mode and all that adrenaline is pumping, his lizard brain is normally looking for a spear so he can attack some lion, searching for a forest of trees to go run and hide in, or swiftly donning a suit of armor to defend his vital organs.
But when you are in such a mode with a girlfriend, none of these will work. So what are you supposed to do when a girlfriend is ready for a fight?
If your lizard brain is trainable, you can jump in there and reframe the situation entirely.
Holding a high context, and not falling prey to the lower mind, is so important.
To reframe the situation, you look at the circumstance differently than a hunter, a tree hugger or a warrior would see it. Ideas include:
Remain positive no matter what comes up, with a steady commitment to things working out in the long run.
Make the conversation light-hearted, as you recognize any trouble will be only temporary. Make light of the heaviness with a smile, but without mocking her or invalidating her experiences.
Stay in solution mode – trusting goodness is on the way – but without going into “fix it” mode, where you rush to action before listening.
One of the best reframing positions you can take incorporates gratitude. Without being fake (she will know) you can communicate the appreciation that she is bringing something up that is important to her, and therefore important to the relationship.
If you can’t be authentic and 100 percent committed to the reframing of the argument, then don’t pretend. Shutting up is a better approach than a bad reframe job.
4. Focus on Being Proactive Instead of Reactive
When you see a fight on the horizon, and the heat is being turned up on some conflicting topic, you can go into proactive mode. But not in these ways:
- Devising a plan of defense.
- Devising a plan of offense.
- Implementation of instruments of battle.
You can be proactive in these ways:
- Write her a poem about how freaking cool she is.
- Get her car detailed.
- Let her know of your plan to take her out to her favorite nightspot.
You can be in action mode rather reaction mode!
Now, these actions will have to AUTHENTICALLY represent how you feel below the fight – the good stuff. It can’t be because you feel guilty, obligated, afraid or you want out of the proverbial “doghouse.” (No real man enters a doghouse.)
Something magical happens when a truly loving gift is given to someone who is feeling angry. For you retro holiday Claymation fans, remember how the Winter Warlock reacted when Kris Kringle gave the menacing one a choo-choo train. The mean and despicable dude completely melted into the softie that he was deep down.
Be creative, and think up something on par with that cool choo-choo.
Will she still be mad or be ready to fight? Perhaps, they are her emotions.
But you can know you did your best at bringing your best, rather than bringing out your worst.
5. Treat it as a Test
Another huge way to reframe a potential fight is to see any of your girlfriend’s pokes and prodding as a test.
She may be testing you to see if you’ll degrade yourself into a fight. She may be testing to see where you truly stand as a man – what you believe, what you love, where your limits reside.
Will your girlfriend respect and admire the man who fights her, or respect the man who simply stands his ground as he remains caring and loving?
Reframed, a girlfriend’s challenges are tests of your strength – in what you stand for – or your weakness – in what you argue about.
Since you’ve lost the argument as soon as you engage into one with her, your “victory” or your passing of the test may come if you simply stand by your terms without giving into a hissy fight.
As if playing poker, you don’t have to give your emotions away or give into the battle. You can simply hold your hand, keep your boundaries, and play the game fairly and wisely.
6. Take Responsibility for Your Own Emotions
How does this phrase sound coming from a man?
“You are making me feel upset!”
Oh brother. Pretty disempowering for any person to hold that in mind, huh?
The empowered man won’t sink to such an irresponsible mindset. If you are arguing with your girlfriend, you are upset. But you are not upset at her. She is not making you fight, and she is not making you mad. Not really.
An empowered man would simply know who he is, express his side and then be present for the one he says he loves.
If you find yourself actually arguing with your woman, take an internal time out, and ask yourself this question: “What is really bothering me?”
If you answer the question with “I’m mad that SHE…” then you are off the mark.
If you answer the question with “I’m mad that I …” you are closer to not only the truth but also your freedom from your upset.
Own your crap. Know you are mad because of something inside of you (powerlessness, non-clarity, insecurity), and there is something you can do to remedy this.
And then after you figure out where that upset originates, stop bickering with your woman and consider what can you do about it!
7. Just Walk Away
If none of the above works to have you avoid a stupid argument and your lower nature just won’t be soothed, you will have to do something desperate.
It’s called LEAVING the SCENE.
If worse comes to worse, and you are about to be pulled into a fight, uncontrollably, it’s better you walk out of the room, restaurant or movie theater and just exit the space.
Make something up for leaving or simply go find something else that fulfills you and soothes that restless soul. Call a friend and play some basketball. Go miniature golfing, go walking, running, boxing, skeet shooting.
Anything is better than staying in a space where you can only lose.
8. Be the Hero
Lastly, remember this important point whenever you are about to pull yourself into a battle with the woman of your dreams.
She wants a hero.
She doesn’t want a zero.
Ask yourself – will I be showing up as a hero or a zero if I bicker and banter with her?
After answering this question honestly, you will be facing a direction into the man you know you can be:
You will be a man committed to the intimacy, connection, and love that keep your relationship alive.
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