After a Fight, Olive Branches Ease the Pain
By: Kathy
June 23, 2010

When couples fight, it is often tricky finding a way back to ‘good’ once the gloves have come off. Both sides are in their respective corners licking their wounds and constructing a cocoon of protection and a new strategy of defense. So how do couples navigate this treacherous territory and come out happy and connected on the other side?

Biblical references show extending an olive branch as a sign of peace, or a waving of the white flag, to demonstrate a willingness to stop fighting. When it feels there is a cavernous distance between partners, eventually someone has to make the first move. This can be especially hard if making the first move feels like admitting fault in the argument. This concept of extending an olive branch, however, doesn’t have to mean anything other than ‘I hurt’ or ‘I want to stop hurting each other’. When one person lowers their protective walls and shows softness, the other person often follows suit. At this point, couples can reconnect and begin calm discussions towards resolving the argument, or at least stop bloodying and bruising one another!

So what does extending an olive branch actually look like? It can be walking into the room where your partner has retreated and reaching out a hand for theirs. Perhaps it is sending a text message, not to continue the fight, but to simply say ‘I’m sorry’ (both parties usually have some contribution to the argument that warrants an apology anyway!) Even the gesture of making eye-contact with your partner can be key to breaking the ice and initiating some connection. Keep in mind, the partner on the receiving end of the olive branch has a responsibility to see it as a loving gesture and respond accordingly! If a husband reaches out a hand to his wife, and she smacks it away, she is choosing her pain and anger over resolution and happiness.

Each successful couple finds their own method of extending olive branches when they are hurting. Couples who fight hard but can’t set down the gloves and extend or receive an olive branch are in for a lot of pain. What do you use for an olive branch in your relationship? Perhaps this would be a great topic to discuss before the next fight comes up!