I adore and admire and respect and [insert entire list of positive and heartfelt feelings here] my partner, but we argue because, well, duh. Of course we argue. We love each other, and that means we argue. We have a kid together, and that means we argue. We live together, so we argue. That's just the nature of all of those relationships, and that's totally fine. Arguments can actually be really productive parts of relationships, so when I say "we argue" I almost mean it in a good way. While we have many attributes in common, we are also completely different people who lived completely different lives and have completely different experiences before we met, fell in love, and had a baby. We don't always see eye-to-eye, we disagree on multiple occasions and miscommunicate with the best of them.
Here's the other thing: My partner and I are also both feminists, and that one shared attribute helps to insure we have healthy, fair, and (for lack of a better description) "better" fights.
Prior to meeting, dating, and building a family with my partner, I was under the impression that having all-out screaming matches with your partner ment that you cared about one another. I can contribute some of that to my parents' toxic relationship, but it was mostly due to the people I was deciding to date. I had fallen victim to the idea that if someone loves you, they put you down and make you feel insignificant, all in an attempt to make you a better person. Typing this now, I feel foolish, but when you're unaware of what real equality and respect look like, something so unhealthy can genuinely feel normal.
Now that I've learned and grown and have picked a feminist as a partner, I realize that healthy fights happen, and feminism is a vital part of ensuring that partners can disagree in a constructive way. So, enough of feminism being labeled as a "dirty," man-hating word. Here are just a few reasons why feminists have better fights in their relationships.
One Person Doesn't Think They Know It All Just Because Of Their Gender
This holds up no matter the genders of the people in the relationship: if your couple is comprised of a man and a woman, and they're both feminists, the dude doesn't assume he's right just because he's a man; If your couple is made up of two people of the same gender, then neither of you really has any presumed high ground.
My partner doesn't make assumptions about my intelligence just because I'm a woman. The idea that he's more reasonable because he identifies as a man, and I'm more emotional because I identify as a woman, doesn't cross either one of our minds. He sees me as a person, who has lived and learned and acquired knowledge and wisdom (just like he has) and he values my opinions and beliefs, just like I value his. Gender, simply put, has nothing to do with how intelligent or reasonable we regard the other as being.
Everyone's Opinion Matters
There isn't a hierarchy in our relationship, and it certainly isn't based on gender. No one "wears the pants." We both wear our own pair and work together to make our way through arguments or disagreements. His opinion isn't any more valuable than mine, just because he is a man, and visa versa.
At the same time, we recognize each individual's strengths and weaknesses, and can respect ourselves and one another enough to learn from one another. Of course, this requires swallowing our respective prides from time to time, but we know that we both come at an argument with a different set of strengths and skills and knowledge. In these instances, it isn't because of our gender, but because of our learned experiences.
An Argument Is A Learning Opportunity
Neither of us indulges in the definite lie of thinking we're perfect. This acute and shared awareness helps us realize that while we might disagree in one particular moment, one or both of us might come to a mutual conclusion, based on our discussion. Because we both value one another as equals, when arguing, we don't see the other person as "wrong," but as an individual with a different view point. When we approach an argument from that angle, we often walk away from disagreements knowing a little bit more (about each other, ourselves, and/or whatever we were arguing about) than we did before we started.
There Are No "Cheap Shots" Rooted In Gender Stereotypes
I don't tell my partner that he's dumb because he's a man who likes football, and my partner doesn't tell me that I'm dumb because I'm a woman who should have learned to cook. We don't take cheap shots at one another or ever, ever, use outdated gender stereotypes to bring one another down. It's pretty nice to have fights when you can skip over all that shit.
Getting Emotional Isn't A Bad Thing
Negative emotions are usually considered "bad," especially when a person is in the middle of an argument. But my partner and I don't view them that way. He doesn't think that I am irrational if I start crying or become passionate and emotional when we're in the middle of an argument, and I don't tell him that he shouldn't cry or shouldn't show emotion just because he's a man (or for any other reason).
Emotions are a vital part of the human experience and play just as important a role in making your voice heard in an argument as reason or restraint do. We value one another's emotions and don't view them as weaknesses, but as strengths.
A Person's Space Is Valued
If one or both of us don't want to discuss a particular topic anymore, or want to take a break and re-group, or just need some personal space to digest the argument, it is granted to us by the other person without hesitation. If I say I need to walk away from the argument, my partner allows that to happen, even if he feels compelled to keep pushing forward in the conversation. If my partner doesn't want to talk about it for a period of time, I completely understand. A good rule, in general, is that the person who needs space is, in that moment, the person who gets to decide the boundaries and limits of that interaction. This isn't just true of fighting; the lesson translates to every part of life.
It is important that, even when you're in a couple, you see the other person as an individual, who deserves to be in complete control of their body and their decisions and their time, and no one gets that better than two feminists.
Images: IFC; Giphy(6)