Is This a Hill I’m Really Willing to Die On?
So, I’ve talked about how fighting to win is, generally, fighting to lose - and because of that, there’s a strong corollary to that principle. If this isn’t a hill I’m willing to die on - or have the relationship die on - I shouldn’t be having the argument. I don’t mean I shouldn’t voice disagreement, or let someone know I’m uncomfortable, or tell my partner they need to rinse plates before they go in my dishwasher if they’re trying to be helpful. I mean I shouldn’t raise a disagreement to the level of a fight-to-win, I-am-right-and-you-are-wrong, someone-should-do-something-about-this-injustice argument unless I’m ready to implode a relationship over the disagreement. Unless I’m that right, and they’re that wrong. Unless it’s a pattern that’s repeated that many times.
The pattern one is the biggest reason why I, personally, would be willing to knock down, drag out fight about something, and the most common reason other people have started them with me. Patterns that have been talked about calmly, more than once, that don’t change over time are likely to build resentment and become hills people are willing to die on.
Your personal hills can make as much or as little sense to others as you like - I’ve known folks whose personal hills were as small as the way laundry got done, or as big as major financial and communication issues. The exhaustion and slow deterioration of the relationship of having massive fights isn’t worth it unless you’re actually willing to bail out if you lose the fight.
This means real, loving relationships might crash and burn over laundry. But the laundry probably became a hill to die on later, after a bunch of other conflict. It also means that relationships won't burn over an unrinsed dish or a bad day at work or a failure to respond quickly enough to a text message, and that "well maybe we should just break up, then!" will get thrown around a little less casually. Don't have the big, burning, relationship pillar chipping away at fight unless you're willing to die (or kill the relationship) on that hill.
Little fights? The five minute or less yelling sprees when someone is too stressed and so are you? The “everything logistical is wrong and I’m emotionally overwhelmed” breakdowns that lead to a conflict but you can identify that you’re overwhelmed and need space? None of those are what I’m talking about. This corollary to “When you fight to win, everyone loses” only applies to big, dumb, loud, dragged out, everyone is angry for hours to days fights. If it’s not a hill you’re willing to kill the relationship on, don’t have the fight.
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