Shubho and I used to fight like dogs.

Fight in relationship or marriagePhoto by MadRussianPhotography

Yes. Shameful but true. Those maddening evil games would go on for hours, especially in weekends when we seemed to find nothing better to do. When our jobs seemed to bore us to death we’d even pick up the phone and start the gymnastics.

Like all addictions, this favourite sport of ours also quickly started taking its dark toll on our mental and physical health. I guess I would’ve gone completely insane (which is the ultimate nirvana of all addictions anyway) but fortunately or unfortunately the me in me stopped me before I got there. Or did it? Only you can tell. ;) But for the rest of this post I’ll pretend that it did.

So like I was saying, one day the me in me (some call it survival instinct, but I was never good with big words) said No. This was hard, as you can understand, given that I have a bit of a history with anger addiction too. But something in me decided I’ll not fight anymore, because I can’t afford to.

That’s when I realized how we were constructing unnecessary Abysses of Logic and drowning ourselves in them.

That’s when I came up with the Deflection Technique.   

Today I want to tell you about this ONE basic crucial concept of conflicts in a relationship and how you can use it to stop the silly fights in your relationship from building up.

The Abyss of Logic: The fuel to fights in a relationship or marriage

What’s an abyss of logic? Let’s take an example.

Jane: “Why haven’t you watered the plants?”

John: “Look who’s talking? As if you haven’t forgotten to pick up the groceries for two days in a row now!”

A possible way in which Jane can reply to this is: “Yes I’d forgotten to pick up the groceries, but we already have enough supplies, so at least there was some back up. On the other hand if you continue to neglect the plants they’ll soon die – there just isn’t any back up option.”

As you can see Jane has moved away from her simple complaint about John not watering the plants to a relatively more general issue of whose mistake poses higher risks to the family.

In answer to this, John might say: “Jane. Are you trying to say your silly little plants are as important as our basic needs like that of food?”

Now this discussion has gone to a completely new level. John has attacked something very close to Jane’s heart – the plants – calling them unimportant. This would hurt Jane emotionally and she’ll start screaming and you know the rest.

This is what I call the Abyss of Logic – the use of logical arguments one after the other to defend one’s position in a fight.  

Why is the Abyss of Logic dangerous?

Silly fights in a relationship don’t occur because one person is “right” and the other is “wrong”. They usually occur because of things like minor annoyances partners cause each other, silly frustrations they take out on each other etc. So basically it’s about releasing that momentary stress. That stress might well have been built by something your partner has done. But when you lash out at them ask yourself – are you doing this to set right whatever they did wrong? No. The reason behind your immediate action is your stress, not whatever your partner did. Hence assimilate the following fact once and for all:

The only objective of fighting is stress relief.

Fight in relationship or marriagePhoto by Ed Yourdon

However, the irony is that the moment you attack your partner you create more stress – on them. They then try to release it by attacking you back. But as rational beings, we humans tend to take a more sophisticated approach to relieving this stress because we don’t want to admit that we’re just following an animal process of stress relief by fighting for the sake of fighting. We pretend we’re having a logical discussion. The moment we combine our animal need of stress relief with our human rationality we make the ultimate mistake. Once we make this mistake a fight can go on forever – the more opposing arguments someone is faced with the more stressed they are and the more they attack the other person in order to release that stress. But when they do their human tendency kicks in and they fashion yet another perfect logical argument as ammunition for the attack. Thus the vicious cycle of fighting in a relationship or marriage continues.

How do you magically dissolve the fights in your relationship or marriage? The “Deflection Technique”

So how can you escape this abyss? By not letting the logical steps to build. I call this the “Deflection Technique.” Remember this:

If you want to resolve the fights, throw logic out of the window.

Counterintuitive as it may sound, the more logical approach you take to the fights in your relationship, the deeper you’ll fall into the abyss and into nervous stress.

Let’s look at how Jane and John could have applied this technique to resolve their silly fight.

Jane: “Why haven’t you watered the plants?”

John: “Look who’s talking? As if you haven’t forgotten to pick up the groceries for two days in a row now!”

Jane: “I wasn’t saying anything about the groceries, John. I was just asking what could be the reason why you haven’t watered the plants.”

Note how Jane has effectively deflected the build-up of argumentative attacks by refusing to respond to an attack which was made on her.

Now. Of course it’s possible that John will in turn refuse to respond to Jane’s accusation. But if Jane applies the Deflection Technique consciously and consistently, she can dissolve the fight under any circumstances. Here’s how:

Jane: “I wasn’t saying anything about the groceries, John. I was just asking what could be the reason why you haven’t watered the plants.”

John: “And I wasn’t saying anything about the plants. I was talking about the groceries.”

Jane: “It’s ok. My objective is not to fight with you about the plants or the groceries. I was only expressing my disappointment over the fact that they’ve not been watered. It’s not that big an issue. It’s ok.”

Note how Jane has now completely eliminated any chances of the evil logical build-up. She’s once again refused to be led on by John in the direction of a blame game. At the same time she’s also shown restraint and maturity instead of obstinacy, without being forced to apologize. John won’t give up on his point. If Jane had also chosen to go for a tit-for-tat reaction of holding on to her own, this would have blown up into a long and stressful argument. Instead she’s used the Deflection Technique consistently in order to dissolve the fight.

And that’s what I do nowadays whenever we’re faced with a potential conflict, irrespective of who started it.

You can too. ;) Try and let me know how it goes by leaving a comment. J