Why Fighting Can Be Good for Your Relationship

Fighting is something all couples do. Make yours effective (rather than destructive).

Making Up Is Easy to Do

You know that fighting can't be all bad, because making up is such fun! If releasing pent-up emotions and getting at deep-seated issues aren't enough motivation to hone your arguing skills, consider this: Make-up sex. Looking for innovative ways to make up after the smoke clears? Try one (or more) of these suggestions:

  • Give yourselves a score on how "well" you argued (You might want to wait a few hours before trying this one.) You're not scoring each other, but the two of you together. Consider how you handled the fight and what you learned, and give yourself points for creativity. Then redeem those points for a romantic dinner, massages, whatever.
  • Create a post-fight ritual Make a point of having a glass of wine on the back porch following each heavy argument. Or take a walk early the next morning. Slow dance to a favorite song. Whatever the ritual, use it to remind yourselves you've made it through another tough one with your love intact.
  • Keep a diary Here again, don't try this in the heat of the moment. But do attempt to get down on paper, together, the facts of the argument: what it seemed to be about; what it was really about; where it took place; any really great lines; and - most important - how you both felt afterwards. You may find yourselves laughing at these recollections as years go by.
  • Turn the fight around Use the same emotional-release skills you practiced in the argument to communicate fervor. Were you thinking that he looks sexy when he's angry? After the argument, say so—passionately.
  • Move beyond flowers and cards to say "I'm sorry" Nurture your partner's spiritual passions. Bring home that new CD he's been pining for, or that book she's been dying to read. A great gesture after a fight about how he spends too much time going to sporting events: two tickets to his favorite team's next home game. Trust us, he'll love it—and you.
  • Explore the unknown Visit a new restaurant, check out a performance by a new band, or tackle the climbing wall at the gym. Whatever you do, use the confidence you've gained resolving your disagreements to raise the bar of what you're capable of together. This can mean wilderness camping or it can mean spending a week without TV. You decide.
  • Explore the unknown, part two So you've been in the bedroom before. Does that have to make it a dull place? Bring something new to the "table" this time—a fantasy, a stanza of poetry, a romantic movie, a tub of Cool Whip. Use your imagination, and have fun.
  • Show and tell Let your partner know you appreciate how he handles you, your disputes, and all the thorny paths you've traveled to a better understanding. You can say it, write it, or toss in an unexpected hug here and there. Make sure the message gets across, though.
  • Speaking of unexpected hugs… What about the unexpected naughty Polaroid? Or the unexpected cell-phone whispers? Or the unexpected provocative e-mail? Hi-tech your way to togetherness.
  • Really make up Never leap to the make-up part until the argument has been fully resolved, or at least until an emotional connection has been reestablished. Having make-up sex too soon in an effort to smooth over unaddressed problems is ultimately useless and unfulfilling.

Buy the Book: Order Love: The Course They Forgot to Teach You in School by Greg Godek (Sourcebooks, 1997) from Amazon.com.