I watched the Jake and Vienna interview last night in horror. It was a he said/she said smackdown, complete with tears, whining, and eye rolling -- and it resulted in Vienna storming off and slamming a door. A lot of you are on Team Vienna, some on Team Jake. I think they were both so in the wrong and it was clear they do not belong together.
But they also don't know how to fight... the right way. We can learn a lot from their failed relationship. Here's how to avoid turning a typical fight into a monumental argument that will lead to a break-up.
- Don't harp on things. Can you believe they were still talking about the tape measure incident? What's the big deal really? He measured to fit the dresser, she was checking his work. Why did Jake get so mad about that? And why was it still being brought up? When you have little spats, both of you need to move on from them and never bring them up again. What's the point?
- Have your own life. Not only did Jake seem upset that Vienna didn't have her own thing going on in LA, but Vienna was clearly upset about it as well. This could lead to resentment of the one who is earning all the money/making all the decisions/has all the friends. It ends up feeling more like a parent/child relationship than a couple relationship. This doesn't mean that both people need to work, just that they need to have their own things going on and have their own passions and hobbies.
- Suspicion breeds shady behavior. There were talks of cheating with Vienna shrugging it off as her gay friend, a guy she met who had two other dates -- serious trust issues there. But if one partner thinks the other is cheating, then the other could start to be afraid to tell them anything for fear they will think the worst. You can't let this happen. Being open and honest is always the best way to go. And making excuses always makes you sound guilty.
- Control your temper. It's clear that Jake has anger issues (throwing the GPS?), and Vienna pushed all the right buttons to get him to his boiling point. Instead of continuing an argument when one partner has trouble controlling their temper, walk away or do what you can to diffuse the situation. Never try to talk an angry person down -- it will just make them more angry. Wait until things cool off and then calmly work on a resolution ... even if that includes anger management classes.
- Don't interrupt each other. This is good practice for everyone in all situations. We're all guilty of it sometimes, but letting other people finish before you chime in will help everyone be heard and feel they are able to fully express themselves and say what they need to say. Also, make sure you give your partner time to talk and don't hog the whole conversation.
- Speak slowly and don't raise your voice. It's easy to talk fast, furious, and in a raised voice when you are in a heated argument. But if you calm down, count to 10, gather thoughts, and then speak in a casual tone, chances are the disagreement will not escalate.
- Don't be smug. Didn't Jake seem like such a jerk with that smug look and attitude? Remember that and don't make that face unless you want your partner to fly into a rage.
- Respect each other. Take a moment to remember that you love this person. He is the father of your child/the man you want to marry/the one who won you over with his meatballs. A fight is a fight. It doesn't have to end your relationship... as long as you respect each other and don't lose sight of that even in a fight.
- Accept that you aren't right all the time. It seemed that Vienna wanted to be right all the time. It also seemed like Jake couldn't accept if he was wrong. If you take a moment to see the other person's view of the situation, you may learn how or why they see things the way they do. And then you can be sympathetic to it -- not necessarily change your viewpoint, but you can understand why a person feels the way they do.
- Stay in tune with each other; learn each other's quirks. Sometimes my husband thinks I'm mad when I'm not. When I'm thinking and not talking, my face seems to go into a frown, making it look like I am upset when I am not. When we first got close, he would get mad because he thought I was mad. Well, now if he thinks I am angry, he'll just ask, "Is everything okay? Are you mad?" I'll say no with a smile (if I'm not mad, of course) and we laugh it off.
- No sex is a sign something is wrong. If your sex life is gone, do something to get it going again. Intimacy is an important part of your relationship, so if that goes (and neither of you wants it to go), then start looking for ways to find that spark again.
What did you think of Jake and Vienna's fight? Did you learn anything from it?
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Written by Michele Zipp for The Stir
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