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MDJ Says: Couples fight; I think that’s the inevitable result when two people invest emotionally, passionately, and so entirely in each other. Personally, I think it’s very un-sporting for a 240-pound behemoth like me to be picking on my Zee, who’s about 10 pounds away from being Kate Moss. But we do fight, and our fights tend to be very intense. But we keep coming back to each other, and I suppose that’s what matters. Here are Zee’s thoughts on how couples fight, and more importantly, how couples heal.

Last week, I sat beside this couple fighting over lunch. The gist was about the guy flirting with someone on Facebook. That’s pretty common nowadays. I’m thankful Mark and I are aligned when it comes to those things. In our relationship, honesty, transparency, and communication are a priority. We actually have each other’s passwords for everything.

Of course just like any other couple, we fight, argue, bicker or in his words “discuss with passion.” There are really some things that get to our nerves. These can be random, nit-picky, shallow, relevant, or just plain hurtful.

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MDJ vs. ZEE

To enumerate some and not in any particular order:

  • Schedules
  • Late nights
  • Jealousy
  • Stubbornness
  • Porn
  • Too much Internet
  • Health
  • Washing dishes

See? Normal couple issues. I say normal because all couples have issues and fight. Couples who don’t fight are probably just hiding things under the rug, compartmentalizing, apathetic, or one of them is cheating on the other.

Fights are normal, and in mine and Mark’s case, make us stronger. Think of it as an emotional workout. Round after round of dissecting, discussing, bickering, and arguing over a minute, senseless topic that can eventually be relevant to all mankind and the Filipino people… like who brings the doggie/leftover take-out bag.

“You’re not going to eat it anyway.”

“Well, someone might. I don’t want to waste anything.”

“Then you bring it around.”

“In this outfit?!”

And so on and so forth. That’s 250 calories right there.

How do Bella Flores and Celia Rodriguez Communicate?

Communication can make or break a relationship. Mark and I are both communication professionals. Does this mean we have a perfect relationship, talk and discuss our feelings often or in a civilized manner? No. It’s more like Bella Flores and Celia Rodriguez had a tiff and sarcasm spews out like a fountain. It was actually funny at first (well, I thought it was) and really, sometimes it feels like a Filipino B-movie. Being in the communication field just means we acknowledge its importance and really practice it. It also means we can both exhaust a topic of irritation until nothing’s left but ashes.

We can bicker for an hour over who should wash the dishes, spend another hour diving deeper and discuss why one washed or did not wash the dishes, and the final hour talking about the relevance of having clean dishes in a timely manner, if it actually does get done. Then I go into my HR/OD persona and delve into what motivates a person to wash and not wash dishes. Sometimes, we even have visual aids.

So what makes us survive our long-drawn, sometimes silly and shallow “discussions with passion” ?

Exhaust The Topic

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This is difficult for me. I have the tendency to clam up and run away, but Mark has taught me to open up, no matter how shallow or painful. That it’s okay to discuss things. Let’s just say, after I learned this, I never had a problem.

· Hide nothing and let your partner know how you really feel. It may be petty and unreasonable for you, but he or she might just understand it. Sometimes you discuss it too much, eventually it sounds silly and whoever started it realizes it’s not worth it. Either that or you have exhausted the topic so much, you exhausted yourselves and just want to end it amicably. Fatigue and hunger… the great equalizers.

· Talk calmly and slowly. Try to deliberately lower your voice. People have the tendency to raise their voices when emotional (i.e. me), and even if it’s not done deliberately, can be decibels higher.

· Try to follow a structure: What, Where, When, How, and How did it make you feel? If it’s totally unreasonable, “Just because” does not count. There must be some sane reason somewhere.

· Never get physical even when you just want to grab the person’s hair and uproot it (No, that’s not the reason Mark has no hair). Violence should never be an option. Ask for a time-out to breathe, reset, and calm down.

· Do all this in a private area. It can be at home, in the bedroom, and away from kids. Doing a Claudine Barretto in public is just wrong, unglamorous, and just plain ugly, not to mention undesirably YouTube-able.

· Listen

Pride and Humility

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Saying sorry can sometimes feel like swallowing a burr. Admitting you or both of you are wrong is even harder. Feelings were hurt and words were said. It doesn’t work out like a fairy tale, and you don’t always “live happily ever after.” Sometimes, it can take an hour, a day, or a couple of days before you’re back into African lovebird mode. These are things we usually do to hasten the process (it could work for you):

· Crack a joke
- Shared laughter always helps. If you don’t have a joke or suck at it, you can always Google for one.

· Make funny faces
- Nothing like making a fool of oneself to make someone smile or make them feel that they got one over you.

· A good meal
- A good shared meal warms the heart. If cooked by the guilty party, the better.

· Shopping
- Gifts are always good. Token cost depends on the gravity of the offense.

Don’t make things too difficult for your partner unless you plan to lose the relationship. A person can only take so much and you may end up alone. Well, I guess it’s fine to be alone that way, you have your pride to keep you company.

Hugs Heal

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The power of touch is amazing and healing. Even when arguing, Mark and I hold hands. I love this because:

· It tells me that my partner will not let go, no matter what we’re talking about.
· We’re in this together
· It makes me feel secure
· It stops me from grabbing a knife when I see red and the other way around

Having a hug after an argument heals the soul. It’s an acknowledgment of one’s love as well as a sense of closure. Hugs are a wonderful language of love.

There you go. This is how we survive. It may not be new or rocket science but it works for us. Speaking of discussions of passion… this article may trigger one.

* All drawings done on a Samsung GALAXY Note. The most awesome phone in the world!

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