For those of you who missed Part 1, I wrote about the reality of disagreements and fights in relationships, and I talked about the importance of “fighting properly” – which I said means to do the following:

1. Fight for each other more than you fight against each other (Part 1)
2. Don’t Do Anything While You’re Angry That You’ll Regret When You’re Calm (Part 2)
3. Get Good at Forgiving Not Fighting (Part 3)

The main idea of Part 1 was: If we spend more time fighting to understand each other our relationship will get stronger.

Now it’s time for Part 2: Don’t Do Anything While You’re Angry That You’ll Regret When You’re Calm.

This is very straightforward but very hard to do when one is in that moment of anger. I know this from experience.

When I studied life coaching, one of the modules I encountered was about ‘Response Verses Reaction’. Response is when (even in the middle of a heated debate), you take a moment to think about how you will respond then respond with your carefully thought out words, where as reaction is when you just react to the situation immediately and blurt out the first few words that enter your mind. The reaction is usually the one you will most regret as it’s not at all thought out, and totally feelings based, and what helpful words would you ever be able to come up with, impulsively based on feelings of hurt, or anger.

While it’s easier to get caught up in the emotions of an argument, the right way is often not the ‘easy’ way, so we have to work harder and learn to control ourselves and the words we say.

How many times have we or our partner unleashed words like “I hate you. Your always doing this. Your no good at this. Your selfish. You’re stupid”? These are words we would never use to speak to others in a normal way, especially people we care about, but find ourselves confessing when we’re angry. I’m guilty of venting many useless words that didn’t go towards anything productive. These words do not help the relationship progress, they move us in reverse until we end up worse off than before we started, most likely even trashing the friendship we once had. Those negative words also do a great job at working on our insecurities rather than working on motivating and building us up.

What I find helpful is when David tells me my faults in a loving way. (David, if you’re reading this, please remember: loving way.) He’s getting better at doing this and I appreciate that a lot. (We were both novices once and are a work in progress). But what is far more helpful is when he works on a solution with me. It’s one thing to tell someone what their problem is, and it’s another to apply understanding, patience, wisdom, and compassion to walking them through a solution. It’s also something I am glad to do for him during times of his failures.

An example of something I might ask David could go something like this:

You know I don’t feel so good when I’m not able to talk to you about my daily activities. I love to share everything I do with you. Do you think that maybe after work when we are both settled at home, we could chat on the phone for 30 minutes to just catch up on the highlights of our day?”

For someone who is so secure and comfortable alone, David sometimes needs reminding that I want to talk about things more. Instead of whining or grumbling at him, telling him he doesn’t do what I expect him to do, or instead of accusing him, I can tell him nicely what I need from him, trusting that he’s not unreasonable (because if your man is unreasonable and refuses to work on things, then you probably shouldn’t be with him).

One thing I appreciate about David is that when he spots problems, or when we get into arguments, he reminds us to think of the objective. If the objective is to be together, we need to do things that bring us closer not things that tear us apart. He won’t end a conversation without finding an objective or purpose, figuring out what actions can be taken and checking our performance. It’s much like he thinks at work, but surprisingly it works well with the relationship too. I just need him to juggle up those technical terms every now and then so it still feels like a relationship rather than a business deal.

What are some things we do in anger that we will regret later? Here are some examples:

1. Going for the kill during an argument – While arguing or debating refrain from personal attacks or bringing up sensitive things from the past. Don’t let what started as a petty argument become what causes lifetime wounds. Some of these low blows really hurt, and worse, they really stick.

2. The silent treatment – When reaching an impasse, instead of cutting off, being distant, and leaving things up for creative interpretation, fight your desire to escape the problem and deal with the real issues. Instead of pulling away, get good at building bridges and repairing ones already built.

3. Comparing – This is one of the things that really sticks during an argument. When we compare our partner to someone else, to someone we identify as “better”, the message we send is that there’s someone else more important to us than them. No one wants to be compared to an ex or to know that there’s an activity or friend who is of higher priority than them. This is especially damaging during a already heated fight.

4. Holding Favors Back – This attitude says, “Because you’re like this towards me, I’ll be like this towards you.” This is simply, in another word, revenge, and revenge is wrong. By using our offenses to justify revenge, we are  setting a dangerous example that it’s okay to do wrong things when wrong things are done to us. That’s not a good foundation for a relationship.

We are not supposed to be making each other feel more insecure in a relationship, we are supposed to be building each other up. If we have real thought out issues that raise red flags in our relationship, then it may be time to move on. If not, then lets think before we speak so only words of encouragement come out of our mouths.

Now here are some suggestions, some simple things we can say that have a huge positive impact on the relationship. Sometimes those little appreciations can mean the most to us. Words really do have power, and what more coming from someone we love and respect. David and I honestly have some useless conversations for the fun of it, but when he has something serious to say to me, I will listen and absorb every word, (even if I sometimes don’t look like I am. I’m working on that). But if he says something bad I will equally take it to heart, so he has to be careful how he says things. This is important for us all.

Proverbs 18:21
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

1. I’m sorry. – If you’re wrong, simply apologize. No need to wait for the other party to say sorry. You’re apologizing not because he or she did first. You’re apologizing because you did something wrong and feel bad about hurting them. Don’t allow guilt to burden you. Make sure you say your sorry, and make sure you mean it, not to repeat the same mistakes. There’s a good saying that goes: The first person to say they are sorry is the strongest, and the first person to move forward is the happiest.

Ephesians 4:26
“In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

2. I forgive you. –  Forgiveness gives you permission to move forward and leave the past where it belongs. If your focused on the past, you will miss what God has for your future.

Luke 17:3
So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.” (NIV)

3. I respect you. – It’s really nice to be valued, and know that someone else appreciate the grounded values you bring into a relationship. It doesn’t cost us anything to say these words but it builds confidence up.

1 Peter 2:17
“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

4. I love you. – It’s often taken for granted until it’s taken away, that’s when we realize how much it meant to us. If you love someone, tell them. There might not even be a tomorrow. Hearts can be hurt and confused by thoughtful words left unspoken. Be kind today.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

5. Thank you – It’s really nice to know you are appreciated, and that your thoughtful gestures did not get unnoticed. If you have a hard time giving thanks, then it may be time to check your pride.

2 Timothy 1:3
I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.

6. Let’s pray together – This is a good way for both of you to humble yourselves before a kind a forgiving God. Instead of dwelling on entitlements, on what wrongs were done to whom, think about how much God has shown us mercy. Keeping this in mind removes the pride and sense of deserving more than we really do. It make us grateful for His goodness instead.

Luke 7:47
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

There you have it, more ways of how to fight with your boyfriend – properly.