Fighting may be inevitable, but you can minimize it

Did Adam and Eve fight the moment they left Paradise? Probably yes.

Everybody fights. Nations, people of different religions, colors, beliefs, or customs. There seems to be a need in many of us to be right — always. And being right tends to make us feel powerful.

What do people fight about? Couples fight about money, sex, and children. (I’ll add “who does what.”)

Says the one returning from work at night: “I’ve been out all day busting my rear end just to keep this family together, so when I come home I want to relax and not listen about your problems.”

Says the stay-at-home partner: “I’ve been here with two screaming kids refusing to take naps, throwing food on the floor, hanging on to me every second; it’s your turn to watch them.”

And so starts another miserable evening.

When there is one breadwinner (or should one say nowadays one mortgage payer),  the other often has to struggle for recognition. She (because it’s more often the woman) often has to bargain for a purchase (the kids need school clothes, I need a birthday present for my Mom, the dog needs to go to the vet). Many of these issues should be discussed early in the relationship (but then all looks so rosy!).

Men and women see sex quite differently. Men often experience a physical need for sexual release and women often (not always) connect sex with their partner’s behavior. He can get turned on when she walks through the room in a revealing outfit, while she gets turned on watching him vacuum the hall or changing the baby. (How the proliferation of sexual material on TV has changed the sexual atmosphere at home is a topic for a future article.)

Character assassination in any form (such as calling names) is — frankly — a waste of time.

It might make you feel good for a second, but it leaves an indelible scar in your partner. And never bad mouth your partner in front of your child!

If you need support, the child cannot offer it; the child needs both intact parents if at all possible. Call a friend, see a therapist, see your religious advisor, or start a journal.

Couples often fight about what is fair. Alas, a waste of time!

Look at life’s unfairness: crippled children, war-torn countries, starving nations, young suicides…

Your partner needs improving? Try, then, to improve yourself! If necessary, inch by inch. Whether that means learning something new, reaching out over and over until there is some response, discovering the beauty around you (even if it’s only the changing leaves on a tree).

The fight you just had — will it matter two years from now? No? Move on!

Editor’s note: Hedi McKinley, who lives in Altamont, is a clinical social worker with an office in Albany.