It took some work, but we went from fighting to best friends.
‘Whenever you are in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.’ – William James
I met Daniel during his matriculation in school. He was a friendly guy and it didn’t take much for us to become friends. A few days later he got the room just beside mine. Towards the end of that session, I shared the idea of becoming roommates with him and he bought it. As far as I was concerned, I was about to have one of the best experiences of my life.
Then a few weeks later, the fights started. They weren’t physical fights, but little arguments. We started arguing about house chores like doing dishes, sweeping the house and washing the bathroom. Cooking was the deal breaker.
Soon, we were having fights about money. At this point, we were hardly speaking to each other. The arguments had become more intense and more frequent too. Before the end of that year, I had made up my mind to move out. I couldn’t stand living with Daniel anymore.
Presently, Daniel is not just my best friend, we are like brothers. Our bromance has lasted for almost a decade and we are getting closer each day. How did it happen? How did we turn what was supposed to be a very caustic relationship to an enviable one?
#1 I chose to be the first to change
Things started changing with Daniel when I decided to stop finding faults with his personality. I decided to accept his person irrespective of the things I considered to be weaknesses.
I learnt that until you change, things may never change. And the more you harp on someone to change, the more defensive (and worse) the person becomes.
#2 I complemented his weaknesses with my strengths
In relationships, being different is meant to be an asset and not a liability.
I found out for instance, that instead of fighting with Daniel because we are different, we could work together, maximizing each other’s strengths and using them to make up for our different weaknesses.
#3 I appreciated his strengths
I started looking out for Daniel’s good traits and noting them. For instance, Daniel is friendly, he is generous and he can go the extra mile for you. I made sure I told him that both directly and indirectly.
It is simple psychology. Whatever you appreciate, whether good or bad, appreciates. Every human being craves compliments. It is like soul food. Telling Daniel about the good things he did made him do more.
#4 I overlooked the minor details. (They don’t matter)
I usually hear people tell me that it is the little things that matter. Is it really true? Do the little things really matter that much?
For example, rather than have an argument with Daniel about toothpaste, I bought mine. Till we graduated, we had two toothpastes in our bathroom.
#5 I chose having a healthy relationship over winning an argument
I once worked as Client Service Executive in a multi-national corporation. One of the things I learnt during my numerous trainings was to let a client win an argument if he has to so that I can win him and close the sale.
In my case, we both chose to let go of so many arguments and focus more on the big picture which was to have a blissful relationship.
#6 I learned how to say ‘I am sorry’
One of the greatest things I love about Daniel is that he doesn’t find it difficult to apologize when he is wrong. I had to learnt it too. Doing this has a way of diffusing hurts and stopping fights.
Guess what? Saying sorry doesn’t always mean you are right and I am wrong. It can be a way of saying. “I am sorry you feel that way”, or “I am sorry you don’t understand my motive”.
#7 I forgave and forgot Daniel’s past mistakes
A couple I admire has a wonderful rule that works for them. The rule is to ‘Never go to bed with a hurt or a grudge.’
In our own case, we both had to learn the principle of ‘Advance Forgiveness.’ This helped us to forgive each other immediately without expecting an apology.
The logic is this: We both understood that we are good people and wouldn’t want to hurt each other deliberately. This makes it easier for us to overlook, forgive and forget offences.
Human relationships are complicated. When it involves living together, it makes the complications complex. But these seven steps can help mend your broken relationship and restore the joy you desire.