As a matchmaker, one of the happiest moments in the profession is when your client tells you that the person you’ve set them up with is a “match”. They’ve gone on the first date and everything goes right. The attraction is instant, the chemistry is present, and they feel as if they’ve known each other for years. After a few dates, your client is ready to commit. Wedding bells are heard just over yonder and the sigh of relief and excitement is contagious. While I can share in the excitement of a budding relationship, I give heed that there is one thing every couple needs to experience together before calling in the wedding party….
You need to have a fight.
Now, I don’t mean a physical altercation or a Real Housewives worthy blow up. What I mean is, every couple needs to know how to handle arguments. You never truly know a person until you’ve seen them at their worst. When they get irritated or genuinely angry, true feelings or attitudes surface. Here are some things that you should look out for:
How they behave in anger, hurt, or disappointment. Even the sweetest, kindest person in the world can be a total jerk when their feelings are hurt. If you find that they get disrespectful, vindictive, or worse, completely shut down and ignore you, it is a clear sign that your relationship is headed for trouble. When destructive behaviors are applied to an argument, it becomes less about resolving the issue and more about how to win. People in strong relationships are able to communicate in a way that addresses the root of the issue, while keeping harmful words and actions in check.
How they understand or acknowledge your point of view. If your partner frequently dismisses your feelings, it can be indicative of a deeper issue of respect. Each time your partner refuses to hear your perspective because they are more concerned with being right, or placing the blame, it chips away at the the foundation of the relationship (mutual respect). “Seek to understand” is a term often used in conflict resolution because it works. Before making your case, first raise questions to try to understand your partners point of view. It will help to eliminate the symptoms of the problem and uncover the root issue.
How issues are resolved. Relationships that crash and burn have more unresolved issues than they can count. Their issues are swept under the rug only to fester and grow. People often ignore problems because it’s easier (temporarily) to let it go and move on. Tiny, seemingly insignificant issues quickly snowball into shouting matches because older, bigger problems will always find themselves back on the table. Healthy relationships acknowledge major issues up front. Coupled with acknowledging the other’s point of view in a calm and understanding tone creates an environment for issues to be resolved without bloodshed.
These are by no means an exhaustive list of things you should look out for, but it’s a start. Knowing how you and your partner face arguments will give you more insight into the strength of your relationship than any other indicator. It will also help you understand the weak spots and what you need to improve for the long term. Ask anyone who has been married for 5 or more years. They will tell you that there are just as many downs as there are ups in any relationship. It’s how you weather the downs that determines your longevity.
Julie Wadley is a certified life/relationship coach and owner of a boutique matchmaking company, Eli Simone, based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Eli Simone offers group and private programs for getting more out of life and love. Visit www.elisimone.com for more information.