Beyond the Honeymoon Stage

Written by Janet Greenwood

Q:    My fiancé and I get along great.  We never fight.  I know, from what I have heard and read that people in healthy relationships need to be able to fight.  Because we don’t ever fight or even disagree much, I am worried about what might happen when we eventually fight after we are married.  How can practice if we don’t even disagree?  It is almost too good to be true.

A:  Typically, the first development stage of a relationship is called the “honeymoon” stage.

      This is a time when both partners seem to think alike, feel the same things and find lots of common interests and experiences. This generally lasts anywhere from a few months up to a couple of years.  This probably is the stage you and your fiancé are in.  Enjoy it.  This is an important time for bonding.

     You are absolutely right that fair-fighting techniques are essential for handling the eventual and normal conflicts and differences that come up in relationships.

       My guess is that you and your fiancé are doing something right in the way you are handling subtle differences at the moment. See if you can see what each of do that helps to resolve, dissipate, or prevent conflict.  You have a good point, however, realizing that you and your fiancé need to establish ground rules to prepare to handle bigger conflicts as they come up.

       You are already a step ahead because most married couples just allow the fights to emerge.  Marriage is one of the most highly charged emotional relationships we can enter into with a lot at stake.  Businesses and corporations outline exactly how they will mediate and settle conflicts in a fair and reasonable way.  It seems wise to transfer some of those methods to the marriage relationship.

       One key to successful fighting and problem solving is the win-win method.  Both people need to feel that they have been heard and that they have gotten a fair deal. If one person wins and the other loses, feelings of resentment, anger, and hurt will eventually be expressed in destructive ways toward the “winner.”

         A good book on fair fighting is the “Intimate Enemy.”  Another is “Beyond the Marriage Fantasy.”