I’ve fought with a partner in public many times, and I’ve seen it happen many times. I’ve had friends fight with their partner in front of me and family members fight in front of me, and I’ve watched strangers duke it out in public for everyone to see. It’s uncomfortable to be in a fight in public, and it’s even more uncomfortable to watch a couple fight in public.
Arguments are going to happen, but they don’t have to happen anywhere. We have the ability to not react instantly to every little annoyance or disagreement we have with our partner. Fighting in private is beneficial to the relationship for two big reasons.
1. It Helps Manage How People Feel Around You And View Your Relationship
Do you have kids? Some experts believe that fighting in front of your kids is child abuse because it can scar them emotionally. Why? Because they don’t understand the underlying reasons for the fighting and can easily take the blame in a fight or put a lot of stress on themselves. And, ultimately they have no control over the fight in the end.
The same can be said for your friends or family members. They may feel the need to take on your problems when you fight in front of them, but they have no control over your problems and, because they have no power to do anything to help you, that puts a lot of stress on them.
Fighting in front of others can also give them the wrong impression about you, your partner, and your relationship.
For example, my friend and her husband always fought in front of me. It got to the point that I didn’t believe they had a healthy relationship at all. Even though she said that she didn’t fight often with him, it was hard to believe that because I only saw them fighting.
In other words, if you don’t want to give other people the impression that you are not happy with your partner, then you need to get into the habit of saving your disagreements for private.
2. Fighting In Public Can Make Things MUCH Worse
Beyond affecting other people and influencing how they feel about you, fighting in public can add fuel to your fight.
For instance, you may want to appear ‘right’ in front of people, so you say hurtful things that don’t need to be said just so you can win the fight. All that really does is add more conflict in the relationship and cause you to feel regretful later on.
And fighting in public makes you fight dirty. Your emotions are high, you know that people are watching you, and you can be more inclined to just win the fight rather than get over it.
The Benefits Of Fighting In Private
It’s clear that fighting in private is one of the habits that you should develop in your relationship. Choosing to fight in private:
- Allows you to avoid embarrassing your friends, family, or strangers who don’t necessarily want to be involved in your fights and have no control to help you if they do try to get involved.
- Allows you to avoid saying things just to make a better case for yourself in front of others that you will regret later on.
- Allows you to fight fairer later because you have allowed your emotions some time to calm down and you did not say anything for the sake of making yourself look better in public.
- Allows you to avoid fights about stuff that really doesn’t matter. How? Often, when you can avoid a fight in the moment, you realize later that it really wasn’t an issue and you drop it altogether.
How To Build The Habit Of Fighting In Private
Fighting in private is all about self-control, and self-control starts with making an agreement (to yourself or to others) to do something you deem worthy of doing.
Therefore, sit down and agree with your partner that, no matter what, you will wait until you are in private to argue over ANYTHING, whether it’s about how to cook a potato or how your partner hurt you by saying something rude.
You may want to choose a place in your home to fight but avoid your bedroom. Negative energy has a way of hanging around, and if you argue in your bedroom it will take on that negative energy and dampen the mood in there for the future.
When You Feel An Argument Coming On, Do This Instead
Let’s say that you are at your in-laws and your partner says something that makes you mad. Instead of reacting, practice the following four steps.
- Remind yourself that this is not the place to react. Remember your agreement to fight in private and stand by your word to build this habit permanently in your relationship.
- Take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. This is known to help draw out the relaxation response and reduce stress by slowing down your heartbeat and blood pressure. In short, it will make it easier not to fly off the handle.
- If you need to, excuse yourself, find some paper and a pen, and write down what you are upset about. Writing can be very therapeutic and help you feel better instantly. It will also give your mind a signal that you can deal with this later because you won’t forget about it, which will help you with the feeling of urgency that you need to address it now. If you don’t have a pen and paper, then leave yourself a memo on your phone or call your phone and leave yourself a voicemail. Just get the words out of your head and somewhere where you can look or listen to them later.
- Get yourself into a mindful state. This will help you avoid overthinking about what was said and what you want to say. It will help you participate actively in whatever you are doing without anger, worry, or stress. The best way to get into a mindful state is to look around and really take notice of what is going on around you. Listen to the sounds. Feel the heat or coolness around you. Touch things around you to bring your awareness to their presence. You will be amazed at how much this will calm you down and put your feet back on solid ground!