Love doesn’t have to be a battlefield. Unfortunately, like many couples you and your partner may get sucked into competition and see each other as rivals instead of teammates. When love becomes a struggle, it’s usually for power and the battle of wills can leave your love in the dust. Lay down your weapons and take a good look at what you’ve created. It’s time to tame the monster and show your spouse and children how to live in a safe zone.
Do you and your spouse live in a competitive environment where one is always trying to outshine the other? Whether on an intellectual or creative level, competing for the top spot instantly pits you against each other. When you’re facing off with each other instead of facing the world, you’re teaching your kids to square off in petty squabbles instead of charging ahead into the brighter side of life. Try to keep from competing for attention as well, especially from your kids. There’s no need to keep score on who’s the better provider, better parent, better spouse or more faithful follower. Lift each other up and walk through life together. There’s no room for weapons when you’re holding hands — or each other.
Do you need to be right? Or at least more right than your spouse? Do you feel the need to constantly correct a misspoken word or inaccurate recall? Even after the point is made if you or your spouse continue to drive home how right you are, you’re really just driving a wedge between you two. Needing to be right can create a parent-child or student-teacher feeling between spouses. And there’s no room for romance in these relationships. Keep respect at the forefront and try not to correct your partner if it’s not really necessary. No one likes to feel monitored. Eventually your spouse may feel it’s best to say nothing if it will help him save face. And no news isn’t always good news.
Tit for tat
Two wrongs don’t make a right and evening the score can end the game. Think before you speak. Don’t just bark something back in reaction to a nasty comment or criticism. Don’t take your mate’s bad behavior as a free pass to stir up trouble yourself. You don’t want to teach your children to model this behavior in their own lives. Teach them tolerance and acceptance, and boundaries. You teach people how to treat you, first and foremost by treating them how you want to be treated. Especially when they choose not to. Let your partner and children know your life is based on what you value, not what another does to you.
Focus on what you’re doing to make your love better instead of what the other person is saying and doing to make it worse. He says a lot of insensitive and less than compassionate things. She has a lot of emotional, irrational outbursts. But in the wake of fireworks, clean up the cinders instead of igniting more black powder. The show doesn’t have to go on, especially when your kids are within earshot.
Fighting is exhausting. It’s underestimated but an overused form of miscommunication that rarely leaves either party satisfied. That’s why the fights start over day after day. When you’re truly tired of the battle and have no fight left in you, you may not feel you have any love left either. Don’t let your marriage deteriorate to this point without taking your tiredness into consideration. It’s hard to find feelings when you feel defeated just thinking about someone. Take a step back from the battle and remember a time when they left you breathless from a smile, not a low blow. Wounded warriors need a little TLC. Then maybe you and your whole family can leave the front lines and take a reprieve.
Conflict was not a staple in my childhood home. My parents rarely argued, let alone fought. So, it is something I have learned to have little tolerance for in my relationships. Unfortunately, arguments, divorce and power and control issues are common occurrences in the childhoods of the current Gen-X dating pool. I’d much rather spend my time enjoying the company of a new love interest than educating him on why the above love tactics don’t work in my world. But up until this point, it just may come with the territory. And some soldiers would rather bear arms in another battle than disarm themselves in an honorary discharge.
Love is worth fighting for. But if you and your partner find yourselves fighting against it, take these suggestions to heart. Go back to when it was you two against the world. You saw promise of a better future in each other. But a tumultuous past doesn’t have to create turmoil in your present. It’s time for a truce. No more cheap shots, low blows or muckraking. Start over fresh and regroup your family formation into a united front. What are you defending? Love — and each other.