December 21st has come and gone with no hint of an apocalypse to get you out of holiday dinner with your in-law’s. But the good news is you can bring peace and joy just by making a conscious attempt to fight less and love more in 2013. Here are some strategies to keep in mind the next time your boyfriend comes home with a stray Pit bull or your girlfriend forgets to Tivo the latest episode of Homeland.
Pick your battles. And there will be a lot of them. But not every situation merits an epic showdown. As much as experts pass around the word compromise like cheap moonshine, it’s something to consider before engaging in a fight that’s bound to get you nowhere.
Figure out what’s really bothering you first. Rationalizing will prevent you from going on a futile tirade accusing your boy/girl friend of being a failure because he/she bought for 1% milk instead of 2%. The nerve.
Go to bed angry. Not every matter requires an immediate solution. A good night’s sleep will give you the time and space you need to clear your thoughts and even give you a different perspective.
What you shouldn’t do is spend the night plotting your revenge. There will be plenty of time for that in the morning. Take a deep breath and tell yourself the rage will still be there when you wake so you might as well enjoy a good night’s rest.
Argue in public. Most (sane) couples will not be as comfortable making a scene in middle of 3rd Street Promenade as they would in the privacy of their own apartment.
Give yourself and your partner the inhibition to remain calm and quiet by going for a drink or taking a walk to talk about what’s bothering you. This way you’ll have no choice but to listen to one another.
Don’t hit below the belt. If you’re going to insult or criticize your partner then you’ve already lost the argument.
This is where really thinking about what needs to be discussed comes in handy: keep focus on finding a solution or coming to a compromise. Insulting one another will only make matters worse, hinder progress and delay a resolution (also delays makeup sex. So take heed).
Don’t recycle ammunition. Yes, it was wrong of him to leave your mother at the airport that one Spring morning in 1998. And sure, she should never have told your brother’s wife that her child to lose some major weight. But bringing up any of this after all’s already been said and done is not doing anyone a favor. Put a lid on visiting the ghosts of Christmas past and move on.
If you still feel like you need a second opinion, a sound mind and voice to guide you, confide in someone who’s not going to tell you what you want to hear but instead what you should hear. A friend, relative or counselor who really cares about you will take an objective position in order to help.
Remember, there’s not always a right and wrong and you may just have to swallow that pride you’ve been nursing for the sake of living in harmony with the one you love.