Love and war. Shove and roar. When we decide to go head to “head” in a heated Battle of the Sexes, we shamelessly fire off any and all ammo we can dredge up from the dark cobwebbed recesses of our minds…be it pertinent, or not…recent, or not…rational, or not. Emotion knows no rationality. So, once we’re hurt, we’re eager to return the favor. All’s fair in love and war, right? There’s a popular notion that we hurt the ones we love the most. Novel notion, no? Although we’re well aware of this tidbit, we’re repeatedly shocked with disbelief when a loved one uses our heart as a dart board. Why? Because we’re desperately passionate about the ones we allow close enough to throw those darts. If we didn’t love them so fiercely, we wouldn’t be invested in the argument. Wouldn’t care what they thought, why they thought it, or how it affected our lives. It’s because we feel so deeply that we fight so passionately. Any time we wage war on our sweetie, our emotions acts as our guns…our words the bullets. The bigger our gun, the more deadly the bullet. Words slinging around in the heat of angry battle like tiny grenades waiting to detonate can’t be easily rationalized, controlled, or unsaid. The experts tell us to talk, rather than fight…to communicate calmly and rationally face to face. But if we could manage that tip when our tempers flare…and successfully control emotion, we may also feel the need to capitalize on our newfound powers and TAKE OVER THE WORLD! 😉
The truth is our emotions are powerful…and, at times, dominate rational thought. When an argument breaks out, our bodies feel attacked, become overridden with emotion, and respond negatively. We fight back. We wage an ugly war. A war so ugly, we sometimes imagine ourselves having an out-of-body experience…hovering and watching from above as our proudest chair-slinging Jerry Springer moment plays out in all its tacky cut-off jean shorts glory…and we watch helplessly wondering who the hell this untamed idiot is. Personal shame has abandoned us. We yell, scream, blame, avoid, cry, bully, play the victim…anything that makes us feel justifiably in the right…NEVER the wrong. Whatever it takes to further our delusion of self righteousness. Such is human nature. But when our delusion is challenged, we feel angry, defensive, hurt, alone…all of which tell our body we remain under attack. So, we pull out the big guns. We shoot off explosive words and watch them crash into each other like Stephen King’s possessed cars in a dare devil drag race. Explosion upon explosion. The intensity! But maybe there’s a better way to resolve our heated battles…leaving far less casualties in the wake, less blood on our hands, and make-up sex at our fingertips. An E-fight? Fighting via email? U got it!
Couples WILL fight…over finances, sex, kids, finances, sex, family, finances, sex, a lost connection. And sometimes, we fight over finances and sex. When we fight, our techniques differ. Experts say men tend to withdraw while women seek emotional support. A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family followed 373 couples over a 16 year time span. They found that the couples’ fighting tactics were a predictor of marital success. How they communicated their disappointments to one another ~ whether they reached an agreement, agreed to disagree, or fought to the death. Essentially, it’s not our fighting that’s the problem, but HOW we fight. The study found the most volatile combination of spouses consisted of one who tackles the problem head on plus one who withdraws and avoids the problem. They found the spouse who faced the problem head on perceived the other’s avoidance as an uninvested disinterest in the relationship. An unspoken “f**k you.” So, if she’s pushing to fight and he’s avoiding the issue, she “rationally” comes to the conclusion that he just “doesn’t love me.” Sound familiar? But in reality, he just needs a cooling off period…time to think before speaking. Probably not a bad thing. After all, she may not want to hear what he’s thinking at the precise moment she’s rattling his ear drums with each and every fault he has the misfortune of possessing.
A fight is a natural part of any relationship…a healthy part. A chance for growth if managed properly. But the instigator sitting on the sidelines capable of destruction and egging it on is none other than EMOTION. Experts agree emotion is a perception of the bodily state…a mental understanding of a physical arousal. An event…such as her cleaning like a housewife gone mad while he reconnects his butt to the couch and his hand to the remote…leads to arousal in the body (likely negative). This physical arousal leads to an emotional feeling…such as resentment or anger. The emotion leads to a reaction…yelling, for example. Yelling is simply a byproduct of pain… “expressing your own pain through anger.” Or perhaps, sharing the “love.” But obviously, yelling is contagious, breeds more yelling, and drowns out hearing. Emotion has successfully brought about war with both now feeling pain and expressing it simultaneously. Both want to be heard. But neither is. We can’t seem to hear over our own anger. We’ve reached…an impasse.
But what if we took our fight to cyber world? A world free of irrational ammo AND emotion. Send our enemy an email explaining why we’re upset. No irrational emotions running the show. No speaking before we think. The very act of typing out a thought requires us to deliberate on its rationality. Our tears may short circuit the keyboard, but they’ll be productive tears…healing our pain instead of adding to the strain. Our thoughts and feelings ~ minus the accusations ~ will be listened to, and heard, in the neutral world of email. Both parties feel less attacked without our opposition looking us in the eye and combating us. Therefore, we listen more, contribute more, and counterstrike less. Win…win!
Whether we E-fight from completely different locations or just take turns on a joint computer, it’s a chance to pour our hearts out to our sweetie without assaulting him/her with every negative emotion that impatiently and inconsiderately spills forth from our mouth. And as we sit and read our spouse’s thoughts, feelings, and fears…we feel empathy rather than anger. Come together, rather than forcing a divide. Listen, rather than yell. We’re more likely to open up in a calm stream of thought-out emails. More likely to clam up in a steady stream of “go to hells.” When we type out our rebuttals, we eliminate the emotional trigger that sends our bullets flying and avoid hitting our spouse right between the eyes with heavy artillery. So, think before you shoot. If we shoot up today’s enemy, who’ll be tomorrow’s ally?
Next time a war is brewing, don’t go head to “head.” Send an email and go heart to heart. Through your glowering snarl and clenched teeth, look your opposition in the eye and growl…
“You’ve got mail!”
Chick Hughes 🙂
Because we can all use a little editing sometimes.