Fair Fighting for Couples
Silence is a relationship killer...you need to FIGHT
Studies show that couples who fight have a stronger relationship and marriage. An old axiom says, "The dirtiest fighter is the one who refuses to fight at all." Someone who doesn't want to rock the boat, and skirts the issues to avoid conflict, ultimately damages the relationship. Fighting can actually get us through a conflict to a level of greater intimacy. So, Fight for your relationship...it's the best thing you can do.
Remember that you are trying to grow together. Often we learned unhealthy or unfair ways of fighting from parents or from our culture.
These make winning at any cost the most important goal. If one spouse wins...both lose.
No Name Calling
Calling a spouse a name such as "stupid" simply backs that person away from a fight. Do not call each other names except the affectionate ones you normally use, such as "Honey" or "Dear."
Do Not Involve Other People
The argument is between the two of you. Young couples make the mistake of involving friends or parents (usually mothers). The damage comes later in several forms; 1) A parent will more than likely remember the issue long after a couple has forgotten. 2) The respect and perception once held by a parent for a child’s spouse will decline. 3) A couple may feel uncomfortable facing the parent even after an incident has been resolved. 4) A parent’s natural reaction is to protect a child and this reaction may cause further damage to the relationship.
No Past History
If it's already been settled, don't bring it up again. It is irrelevant and merely a way to smear your partner. It is OK to go back to learn, but not to get something on your spouse.
Stick to the Subject
Stay focused. Find the issue and don't bring in other issues just to prove your point. When he comes home later and she feels taken for granted or unloved, deal with feelings to make the real issue apparent.
Don't Hit Below the Belt
Don't throw your partners weaknesses in his or her face.
You may win the argument but lose more than you gain.
On the other hand, don't be too sensitive to what your spouse says.
Don't Go to Bed Angry
Finish the Fight. Dragging a fight out is as life-draining as avoiding a fight. Unresolved anger can destroy intimacy.
Maintain a Sense of Humor
Laughter is sometimes the best medicine. It's good to be able to laugh at yourselves, but don't laugh at or make fun of your spouse.
Hold Hands and/or Look in Each Others Eyes.
Being in contact with each other, rather than turning your backs, is the hardest rule. However, it takes the focus from the issue and places it where it belongs, namely on the most important person in your life.
Fair Fighting for Couples
What is fair fighting?
Fair fighting is a way of handling and resolving the differences of opinion that occur between spouses or partners. Fair fights consist of three stages: starting the fight and stating its agenda; the heated part of the argument; and the negotiation or wind-down phase. Many couples engage in "dirty" fighting, which consists of mutual blaming and accusations, explosive anger, and not hearing each other.
What are the usual major areas of differences for couples?
Different ideas result in conflict in the following areas at some time in most relationships:
• child rearing
• managing money
• individual time versus shared time
• social life
• alcohol or drug use
• differences in goals and values
• control struggles (who's in charge)
• communication problems
• sharing household and child care responsibilities.
Why is it good to have conflict out in the open?
A relationship will not be truly intimate unless each partner knows what the other one is thinking and feeling. This means bringing differences of opinion out into the open, not "suffering in silence." Speaking up, finding out what's wrong, and then coming to a joint decision on what to do about it are signs of a healthy relationship. Many people do not learn these skills in childhood and may therefore need help to have a fair fight.
How do you prepare yourself for a fair fight?
• Be sure that you have identified the real issue. Perhaps you think you are upset about a recent event, but it may cover up something bigger you are really concerned or angry about.
• Ask yourself if the issue is worth raising. Make sure it is about something your partner has done or not done, rather than about who he or she is.
• Try to choose a time when the stress level is not high.
• Decide before you raise the issue what solution would be acceptable to you.
How do you prepare your partner for a fair fight?
• Make an appointment with your partner for the fight. Make sure it is within a day after the grievance starts, so that you feel less frustration.