The minute you get engaged, well-meaning friends and family won't be able to stop doling out all kinds of marriage advice. We've heard it all! And one of the best pieces of advice we've heard is that sometimes a good fight clears the path to a new way of looking at your relationship. Here, real married women share the "best" fight they've ever had with their partners.
“For the first two years of our marriage, we’d have the same fight—I’d accuse him of letting me do all the housework and he’d accuse me of nagging him and not noticing his contributions. This went on ad nauseam. One day he came home and said, ‘This is ridiculous. I know you’re as sick and tired of arguing as I am. Let’s figure out a schedule of chores that work for each of us and stick to that.’ We did and—whew!—it’s been pretty clear sailing since.” —Beth
“Both of us came from homes with parents constantly having battles royal, so we followed the same pattern. It sucked, but it was what we knew. Until one day I asked for a divorce. I just said it to upset him, not because I meant it. But he looked so stricken, I did something I’d never done before in the heat of battle. I said, ‘I’m sorry!’ He accepted my apology. We retired to separate corners, and when we cooled off, we had a discussion about setting boundaries—things under no circumstances either of us would say to the other, no matter how angry we got. I’ve been tempted to cross the line, of course, but I always remember Dave’s face and how badly I hurt him, so I take a breath and step back from the precipice.” —Gini
“We had this ridiculous fight where I kept saying, ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ and he’d rebut, ‘I’m right and you’re wrong.’ This went on and on till we both burst out laughing. We’d both realized that as a couple we had to be united, not against one another. Having disagreements became less about winning and more about both of us being able to present our arguments and listen to the other side.” —Dana
“In our case it wasn’t our fight that led to our big change but our neighbors’ battle. We were at their house for dinner when Sara and Tim really went at it—circling one another like boxers, each making the same point over and over and not listening to the other. It just felt sad and pointless, and when Arnie and I got home we vowed to always keep the ‘fight’ about the subject at hand and not degenerate into sandbox bullies. Our decision was borne out a year later when our neighbors divorced.” —Jill
“We arrived separately from work to a counseling session. Dan was late and we went at it—I accused him of being disrespectful to me, and he accused me of not caring about his ordeal of being stuck in traffic. This went on until our therapist said, ‘OK, halt! I’m hearing the same thing from both of you. What’s really going on here? What are you really upset about?’ We each took a breath—the first in five minutes! I said slowly, ‘Um, we’ve had this fight many times. Each of us feels not cared about by the other.’ She said, ‘Exactly. Instead of yelling at each other about the latest trigger, take turns talking about how you feel.’ The lesson was intense—express the need instead of covering it up with anger and accusations!” —Lyn
“During our honeymoon in Paris, we took a day trip to Versailles. The food offerings inside Versailles had closed and we were tired and hungry from walking around. In town, all the restaurants looked touristy and I was fruitlessly searching for an 'authentic' meal. My husband asked again and again for me to just choose one, but I wanted every meal to be fabulous because this was our honeymoon. He ended up walking the few blocks to the train station, leaving me with the hotel keys. I started to see that the months of 'it has to be perfect' wedding planning had to end in order for me to actually be in a marriage with my husband. I'm so glad I was able to release the need for everything to be exceptional so I could relax and actually experience our honeymoon, not just organize and photograph it for social media. I apologized when I caught up to him at the train station and we ended up eating a really good apple tart from a tiny bakery before heading back to Paris.” —Kathleen