How To Fight In Love – Free Ebook

There are couples that seem never to argue.
Their relationships are marked by enormous

outward politeness; they say thank you a lot;
they make each other cups of tea; they can

look rather horrified when there’s a mention
of a squabble in someone else’s life. It’s

understandable if they’re privately a little
pleased with themselves. But surface harmony

isn’t, in reality, any reliable sign of
health in love because it’s impossible to

try to merge two lives without regularly encountering
deep sources of incompatibility. A lack of

arguments is more likely to be a sign that
we have given up caring than a superhuman

achievement of maturity. The goal isn’t,
therefore, to do away with arguments – but

to find our way towards their more fruitful
variety. We need to learn to argue well, rather

than not argue at all.

What then are some of the ideas that might
help us have better arguments? 1. The single

greatest idea that can help us to argue more
constructively is to remind ourselves publicly

that we are – both of us – by nature deeply
imperfect and at points quite plainly mad.

The enemy of mature arguments is self-righteousness:
the sense that we might be beyond fault and

that our partner must be either wicked for
making a mistake or unfairly critical in alleging

that we have been guilty of one. It is of
immense benefit if relationships can be conducted

under the assumed truth that both participants
are idiotic, mentally wobbly, quite flawed

in manifold ways – and constantly in need
of forgiveness. It’s an implicit faith in

our own perfection that turns us into monsters.

  1. People concede points not when they’re

aggressively told they’re wrong; but when
they feel loved. We get stubborn and withhold

the truth when we’re scared and suspect
that the person challenging us hates us, means

us harm, can never forgive us – and is perhaps
about to leave us. It is indispensable to

preface every criticism with an assurance
of our ongoing love. 3. People change very

slowly, and seldom when they are harassed
into doing so. We must strive not to be desperate

for change. We must make our peace with the
idea that they won’t evolve as we would

wish on the timescale that would suit us;
we should be rather pessimistic about human

nature in order to encounter one or two grounds
for hope. 4. We shouldn’t aggravate our

frustration by a sense that we have been uniquely
cursed in ending up in this relationship.

Of course they are annoying. Everyone in the
world would be equally tricky at times and

often probably a lot worse. The specifics
of why we’re in an irritating dispute may

be local but that we are in one is a universal
destiny. We should laugh darkly at the human


  1. Our partner is only ever frightened, worried
    and not thinking straight – rather than

bad. Just like us, they carry a lot of emotional
baggage: they have been shaped by their complex

and at moments very troubled history. Much
of what they do isn’t directly about us

but is a way of coping with difficulties that
came into their life long before we met them.

  1. Choose the moment. We can be under the
    illusion that arguing is an exchange of intellectual

ideas. But it’s largely a process reliant
on our emotions and is decisively influenced

by such easily-overlooked matters as how much
sleep we’ve had, how much we’ve drunk

and what time it is. As a general rule, wait
till tomorrow. 7. Don’t let the relationship

die from misplaced ‘politeness’ or embarrassment.
Dare to name the problem, however shocking

it sounds. As long as it’s been carefully
wrapped in layers of love, the truth is normally

bearable to those who care for us. 8. It doesn’t
matter if we’re right. We must be prepared

to forego all the pleasures of proving a point.
We’re not not trying to ‘win’ but to

live as happily as possible with another person
who is, in the end, our best friend and on

our side. Despite this, we will still have
furious rows of course, we will call each

other the worst things, slam doors and cry.
It’s hugely normal. The capacity to be horrible

to a partner is even a strange – though
genuine – feature of love. A relationship

has to include the madder, more unreasonable
parts of our nature; if we are only ever polite,

it’s because we have not been made to feel
safe. A row may have to be the turbulent passage

towards the kind of deeper reconciliation
we long for. It can be important to say some

wild and hurtful things to halt a drift apart.
By foregrounding for a while the most extreme

points of conflict, we set up the conditions
for reconnecting with larger areas of closeness.

We now remember that, despite an evening squabbling
like the frightened, foolish, barely semi-rational

idiots we are, we love them deeply nevertheless
– and will strive with all our will (and

the help of the odd film like this) to argue
a little more sensibly next time.

Our Relationship Reboot cards inspire conversations that can help to rekindle love between you and your partner.

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