Dealing with Your First Fight

Dealing with your First Fight

Arguments are going to happen in relationships. Just want to get that out there. Even the most loving and happiest long-term relationships have the occasional fight, it will be over pretty quickly usually, and things go back to their kissing and hand-holding ways. The key for any two people in a relationship is to maintain a sense of perspective and not let emotions drive the dialogue when they are arguing.

When we start new relationships, we make an effort to manage our expectations promising that this time, this relationship will be the one that works and lasts. That is fine in all honesty; we should be positive and be prepared for the relationship to be a good one. If we don't, then you are wasting your time and that of the other person.

Then, a few weeks later or months maybe, you start to see the fuller picture of the other person's personality and the sober reality sets in. Then we notice the inevitable personality flaws in the other person. How we manage our first fights will determine, in part, how the rest of the relationship will develop, so follow the below guiding principles and your shiny new relationship will be in a far better place to handle the first fight. Your relationship will be tooled up to handle future fights also, maybe even stop fights before they even start.

Couples fight and argue – accept it

I work with a lot of men and woman on a 1-2-1 basis, and it is surprising how many I work with believe that happy couples don't fight often. To a certain point, this is true, but let's look at this to clarify. The significant factor here is not the frequency of the fights themselves, but moreover the intensity and duration of the fight. It is possible and probable that happy couples have brief arguments or fights regularly, but these fights are quick and not very intense in the way that we perceive a fierce argument. Either partner may get frustrated, or annoyed but what is very important to remember is that they speak about their feelings, but they are very aware not to let their emotions run overtime. No one achieves anything in a rage.

Be aware of your feelings, but do not in any circumstances, live in them.

The aim is to feel your feelings but not to allow them to be exaggerated. What you will find is that couples who are in long-term relationships know how to express their feelings and move forward from them. Couples who find themselves in unhealthy relationships, where arguments are a significant problem, they treat each fight like it is the make or break one.

Are you the kind of person that has to win arguments? Or do you find yourself in a panic and think every fight will be the end of the relationship? Stop, you are sabotaging your relationship and your overall wellness. That's more of a suggestion for a time after your first fight. It's worth a mention now though.

It's your first fight, don't overreact or panic.

I'll discuss almost every time a client says my relationship is "X" say for example "under strain". It's generally followed by we end up having these big blow out arguments all the time. I bring this back to when they had their first fight and aim to learn the pattern of how fights and arguments are handled.

Over-reacting is the worst mistake that a couple can make in their arguments and more so when it's the first one. Over-reaction can cause the most straightforward disagreement to spiral into a 12-round Vegas verbal fight. When you have the first fight, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did I get too emotional?

  • Did my partner get too emotional?

  • Who got too emotional first?

Knowing and understanding this is crucial. It's not to start another fight about a fight, which wouldn't be as useful and welcomed as much as a meeting about a meeting. Essentially you must establish whether you are both prone to making things far too dramatic, exaggerating or living your emotions or is it just one of you.

I am a big believer of looking inward first, so let's start there. Say it’s you who gets emotional, get yourself to a Life Coach or attend therapy. Take responsibility for yourself and get the help you need. There seems to be a stigma or "social disgrace" that surrounds seeking help from a professional, however, let me put it to you this way. Think of Life Coaches, or Therapists as the human embodiment of your local Screwfix or B&Q; you are going to get materials to make something better or tools to fix something. A Life Coach will help you develop tools so you can fix your own problems.

If it's your partner who over-reacts and lives in their emotions, after the storm ends, you should have a serious conversation and ask if the behaviour is the way they always act during an argument. I know that many people can manage a highly emotional partner, but highly emotional partners are not everyone's cup of tea.

You need to be realistic and fair (to yourself) as to what you can endure and be cautious. Probably best figuring this out before you have the serious conversation about their behaviour during an argument and set yourself limitations so you can, during this conversation (about the behaviour, not the fight) manage expectations.

Tell your partner under the banner of "I want this relationship to work, and therefore X, Y, and Z are unacceptable from either of us if and when we have a fight". This could just be the first open, honest and calm example of communication you will have following your first big fight.

Ground Rules

We just touched on it briefly, so after your first fight, take a day or two to bring the tension back down and let it all sink in. Take a few minutes over lunch or a walk somewhere (one of my favourite places to go for a walk with my partner is Linlithgow up in Scotland) and discuss the argument with your new partner. After polishing off the facts of the argument and figuring out who was allowing emotions to drive the fight, tell them you want to take a moment and establish some ground rules for any future fight.

Identify what is acceptable and what is not during an argument. For example, name-calling or bringing family members into the argument. Additionally, it would be sensible to set up a rule to limit the length and intensity of your arguments.

I usually format my sessions on a 1-2-1 basis, however on this on one occasion I worked with a couple who found themselves al