The "rabbit season/duck season" argument occurs often among couples. They go back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, usually with someone getting "blown up." This ping pong match features lots of conflict which goes nowhere. Just like rabbit and duck season, nothing is solved, there is no resolution of the conflict, and there are no negotiations. Things just go boom!
What is the cost of that boom? More conflict, less communication, holding grudges and resentment, less intimacy, and further distance between partners— a loud boom indeed for a relationship. The ironic part of this conflict is that many of the topics in the argument are pretty worthless. It is conflict for the sake of conflict and conflict in order to win. Please pause from reading this and think about the last five fights that you and your partner have had...
How many of these involved “big ticket items”— addiction, mental illness, infidelity, domestic violence?
How many of these involved a misunderstanding/misperception of who was going to do what /when?
If you have big ticket item fights you should be attending regular couples and individual therapy – Schedule that now.
If you are having the “rabbit season/ duck season” fights—explain to YOURSELF why you are doing this. Please do not rationalize, justify and blame your partner for HIS/HER actions. Please ask yourself……Why am I doing this? What is MY part in the fight? What is MY ISSUE that keeps coming up? Why do I want to engage in this conflict? Do you want to know? (Do you need to know?)
YOU have the power to change YOUR behavior! If you do that, you can change the relationship! If you change one part of a relationship, that changes other parts of the relationship -- a lengthy conversation for another time.
At this point, you may be feeling defensive and wondering why YOU have to do all the work? What about your partner? Shouldn’t s/he be doing some of this SELF examination? You may want your partner to do this, but is your partner open to this inquiry? If s/he is willing, communicate your desire for him/her to change in a loving, soft, gentle way. No need for another boom. If your partner is not open to change, then you have two choices— keep having booms over small ticket items or change YOURSELF. Start with the questions from the previous paragraph. Identify that issue. Work on making it better. Since you are looking at yourself, ask the hard question— is there any truth to what my partner is saying about me? If I’m accused of being loud and obnoxious and insensitive, is there truth in that? If so, how can I change that? Can I be warmer, more caring, and more empathetic? Can I be a better listener? Do I have to win every round of every fight? (You don’t.)
If you work on changing yourself, then something magical is going to happen— you will feel better. You will feel better about the world, you will feel better about your partner, and you will feel better about the relationship. You will see how worthless the "rabbit season/duck season” argument is and how it is much better to appreciate the positives that your partner brings to the table, not his/her deficiencies. You can also acknowledge those positives, and validate his/her behaviors that you appreciate (instead of criticizing your partner repeatedly).
What do you have to lose? Many pointless hours of frustration, stress, agitation.
What do you have to gain? Peace, change and love.
Seems like a simple decision.
Change is possible.
Jeffrey M. Brandler, EdS, CAS, SAP, has been in private practice for individuals, couples, and families in Mountain Lakes, NJ, for 31 years. He is a requested speaker and trainer for industry, schools, and self-help groups. He is the chapter advisor for the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) in Morristown NJ, and has been published on several occasions for the NJ chapter of the AAMFT. Visit his website at www.changeispossible.org.