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February: Learning to Fight Right

February 12, 2016

When I first saw the title of this section about fighting right, I was tempted to skip right over it.  I tend to avoid conflict, yet I’m suspicious of people, particularly married couples, who claim they never fight. My own grandmother loved to boast that she and my grandfather never had a fight.  I suspected that sometimes she just didn’t listen.

As I read, though, I found several interesting points to consider. One thing I enjoy about the book is the way Gretchen Rubin uses research, rather than simply relying on her own hunches or personal experience. In one of my favorite funny novels, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, the protagonist relies so much on rationality that he even approaches finding a mate by using research. In this part of the February chapter, I learned the following tidbits based on research:

(1. “Couples who fight right tackle one difficult topic at at time.” Sure enough, as tempers flare, it’s easy to bring up tangential irritations instead of focusing on solving the problem at hand. It’s rarely productive.

(2. “It takes at least five positive. . . actions to offset one critical or destructive action.”  The simple math then suggests that it pays to focus intentionally on producing positive action.

(3. Women perceive face-to-face interaction as more intimate; men prefer side-by-side. Awareness of this difference might just make it easier to interpret situations.  I’ve always suspected that we tend to give what we want for ourselves.  If my back itches in one particular spot, that’s where I scratch his back.  If I prefer chocolate for Valentine’s Day, that’s what I get him. When I was in elementary school, I always gave my family writing utensils for Christmas gifts, not just because the only shopping I could do when they weren’t watching took place at the school bookstore, but because I liked cools pens for myself.

(4. “[T]he most reliable predictor of not being lonely is the amount of contact with women.”  This, she suggests, is true for both men and women.

Some of my takeaways from this section include adherence to Rubin’s Ninth Commandment to “lighten up.” I also share her “particular bosom enemy: snapping.” Sarcasm, clever but hurtful repartee, comes easily but can cause lasting damage.  I learned years ago not to say those barbs that pop so easily to the tip of my tongue, but I still slip up and blurt. Often it is in my own best interest to shut the bathroom door, say them to the mirror, and then let it go.

With moving day coming up soon, I will make a resolution to focus on the positive as we survive the second half of the moving experience. If we can come out of that experience amicably, not just civilly,  we’ll certainly up our happiness quotient.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 9, 2016 6:18 pm

    Dr. Phil addressed #2 in a segment this week. He was talking to parents about the names they called their daughter . . . whore and slut. Maybe that’s what she is, but he even said that they’d have to say 10 nice things to her to counter the negatives. Also, I absolutely agree about going somewhere else to let off steam before saying hurtful things to our sweethearts. I usually just mumble in the kitchen while I’m washing dishes and making lots of noise. Loved this post, Cuz!

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