Posted by: VoiceinRecovery | January 3, 2011

10 Lessons to Learn from Fights

I have a big mouth. Huge. I get in trouble a lot due to my emotional responses and escalation in situations with those I love. I define “trouble” as consequences of my actions. Not that someone punishes me. I mean, that the things I say I regret, I feel were mean, and it can lead to days of alone time to think about what I said, and question my abilities to be in a relationship.

All is not lost when we say things we didn’t mean. Relationships are hard, complicated, and dynamic. It may be with our parents, partner, friend, etc. I wanted to give the ten lessons I have learned and continue to work on in my relationship. These tips are for relationships we want to work on, and be in. If you feel that your partner is NOT healthy for you, these are not for you, and that topic is for another post.

1. Take a time out NOW.

The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause” ~ Mark Twain

When you feel a fight is brewing, or anger is brewing in your stomach, your body feels hot, take a step away. Ask to take a time out, time apart, for even a few minutes, or hours. I overreact to a LOT, and often do not do a good job at picking my battles. Taking a time out gives me perspective and distance in seeing the situation more clearly. This can delay a larger argument, give you time to think about the situation. I call this my “Sit in the Fire” place. Where I sit, angry, in a quiet place (usually my closet) and feel all my feelings. When I sit in the fire, my feelings change, my perspective changes, and I end up in a more rational place to figure out how to address the situation, and communicate more effectively.

2. Apologize.

“Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift” 
~ Margaret Lee Runbeck

When you realize you have made a mistake or said something you regret, say you are sorry. Express why you are sorry, address what was said, and talk it through. An apology is always a good place to start.

3. Listen. Really Listen.

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Actively listening to another is very different from listening while preparing a rebuttal for everything said. Active listening has to do with hearing, listening, making eye contact and asking questions if you do not understand. Often in therapy, they had me repeat back what a person said, so any confusion over words would be addressed. I thought this silly, but now I do not think it so. Asking “This is what I heard you say, am I correct?” is a great open listening skill.

4. Never Assume.

“The harder you fight to hold on to specific assumptions, the more likely there’s gold in letting go of them” ~ John See

Never assume you understand what a person is trying to say, their intentions, or reasons. I think asking questions is a HUGE skill to learn from fights, because without jumping to assumptions, we can ask, clarify, and create better open communication just by asking a question. I truly have learned the hard way what “ASSUME” means. It truly as made me an ass at times.

5. Say “I Love You” Often.

When I say, “I love you,” it’s not because I want you or because I can’t have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try, I’ve seen your kindness and your strength. I’ve seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You’re a hell of a woman” ~ Spike to Buffy (Joss Whedon)

I don’t think I say I love you enough to those who truly matter to me. I do make a point every night to say I love you before going to bed. I think most people in relationships will say, they appreciate words of affection. Saying thank you does wonders. Saying you appreciate those you love matters.

6. Show Your Love.

“Right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past” ~ Tryon Edwards

Words do matter. But so do actions. Showing affection is something I struggle with. A hug goes a LONG way. I read somewhere “Kindness is love in action.”

7. Don’t Use Money or Power as Weapons of War.

A power struggle collapses when you withdraw your energy from it.
Power struggles become uninteresting to you when you
change your intention from winning to learning about yourself.

~ Gary Zukav & Linda Francis (The Heart of the Soul)

Power struggles never are healthy in relationships. Making more money isn’t a weapon to throw in someones face. I caught myself saying “get out of my house” and this not only hurt my partner, but showed NO respect for him. I regret it, and it was a MEAN comment and weapon to use. I may have “meant” I need space, but I should have said what I needed, versus saying that comment.

8. Know Your Needs. Respect Your Loved One(s) Needs.

We mistakenly assume that if our partners love us they will react and behave in certain ways – the ways we react and behave when we love someone” ~ John Gray

If a person is struggling, what does your loved one need? Often times they just want to be heard. They don’t want to be fixed. On the other side, the person loves you and only wants the best for you. Communicate your needs in the moment, for they are ever-changing. It is important to establish boundaries, be consistent, and vocalize them. We need to know what are needs our and listen to others. I know I need the kitchen and bathroom clean, and as lame as that sounds, it is a need. I know my partner needs to be shown kindness, respect, and consideration. Those are hard for me, but showing those things shows I respect his needs. I want to be in a healthy, balanced and respectful relationship. I want us both to have our needs respected, and heard. Knowing my needs and listening to his will help work towards a common goal.

9. Work To Create a Relationship Together.

“Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exuper

You are a part of a team. Fifty fifty and oh so more. Working together, you show respect towards each-other and your relationship. Support each-others goals, dreams, and passions. Support your own goals, dreams, and passions. Being your own person in a relationship matters. Being in a partnership takes work, two individuals with thoughts, feelings, and needs. All of things requires time, effort to make it work. My guy often says, we need to make sure we know the difference between problems that our outside of our relationship, so we can work together for a solution, versus bringing outside issues into our relationship and making it a problem between us. That was a huge light brought into our relationship, because how many times have we taken out our stress on the ones we love? I know I need to work on asking for things, versus demanding things. It is all in the approach and words.

10. Love Yourself and You Can Better Love Others.

To grow in our ability to love ourselves we need to receive love as well.” ~ John Gray

When we can respect ourselves, and show self-care, love towards our being, we are better able to provide that to others. Making yourself a priority in life will teach you self-love and awareness, better able to learn your boundaries, and able to vocalize them. I NEED self-care and love, because when I take care of ME I am better able to care for others. Self care and love rejuvenates me, and feeds my soul; it puts me in a healthier space, more sane, and less irritated with the little things.

The purpose of relationship
is not to have another who might complete you,
 but to have another with whom
 you might share your completeness.
”~ Neale Donald Walsch


  1. The timing of this post could NOT have been better. I was on the opposite side of someone not thinking rationally & it really hurt me. Having a rough time with forgiveness and hope to use these to make amends. Thanks again.

    • I think it is so hard to be on that side – I too have been there. I think that learning how to voice our feelings, discuss the situation is truly important in life. These are our boundaries. I do know that I tend to “react” vs respond 🙂 Good luck and hugs!

  2. Kendra, this post resonated with me on multiple levels…especially the forgiveness front, when you’ve tried and tried to ‘voice and discuss’ to be met with an ungracious ‘talk to the hand’ mentality. At that point, we need to “let it go” which is what *I* wrote about for my New Year post, in a similar vein: (see poem at end), and keep touching lives and souls recovery warrior! You inspire so many…

    • I LOVE that poem. So much of my personal recovery has been about letting go!! It is why I have “Let Go” tattooed on my wrist – to remind myself! 🙂 Thank you for being a wonderful inspiration and voice!

  3. This also comes at a needed time with my husband…I’m going to print this out and put it on our fridgerator. It’ll come in handy these days! Always much easier to act than react if you just read during “those” times. Thanks for blogging about this..
    Follow me in my Recovery Blog Hop at

    • I know I struggle with this a lot. I am still learning how to be in a relationship! I wrote these out to remind myself too of the important things to remember “in the heat” of the moment. Thank you for your kind words and for your blog!

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