All relationships have disagreements. When disagreements occur, fighting fairly can ensure that the situation improves, rather than deteriorates. It’s not easy to remain calm and polite when you feel you’ve been wronged. But the alternative doesn’t provide for a positive outcome, at least not for long.
Fight fairly, and your relationship will endure challenging times!
Try these techniques:
1. Listen. You can’t fight fairly if you don’t understand your partner’s point of view. Talk less, listen more. Keep your self-talk to a minimum. When you’re listening to yourself, you can’t be listening to anyone else.
Take turns speaking. Let your partner say their piece and then respond. You’ll have plenty of time to get your point across.
Ask open-ended questions to ensure you have the full story.
2. Be kind. You won’t accomplish anything by being unkind. You might be seeing red, but your words shouldn’t convey that sentiment.
If you can’t be kind, consider postponing the discussion for another time. Most disagreements can wait.
3. Avoid making assumptions. It’s easy to think you already understand the issue completely. But your partner may have a completely different perspective. You don’t know what another person is thinking until you’ve given them a chance to share. There may be information you don’t know yet. You can’t read anyone’s mind.
4. Avoid personal attacks. The moment you attack another person, they become defensive. You’ve immediately eliminated any chance for a constructive resolution at that time. Address behavior and the issue at hand. Avoid attacking the other person directly.
5. Be honest. Tactfully present your opinion and feelings. If you’re not brave enough to be honest, the situation will continue indefinitely. You can do it! Take a deep breath and be honest.
6. Focus on solutions, together. Instead of assigning blame, put your heads together and consider solutions that will make both of you happy. Too often, the goal of fighting is the assignment of blame. Turn the tables and place your full attention on discovering solutions that will minimize or eliminate the source of friction.
Avoid judging your partner’s suggestions harshly. “I don’t think that will work. Here’s why…” is much easier to digest than “That’s a horrible idea.”
7. Keep your voice down. Most of us will wait until we have some privacy before we fight. Excessive volume is unnecessary. Your partner is right in front of you. Avoid escalating the situation by yelling. Exercise self-control.
8. Try holding hands while you fight. If you’re truly looking for solutions together, why couldn’t you hold hands while you do it?
If you can’t hold hands, you’re not in the positive frame of mind that’s necessary and conducive to resolving the situation. Take a deep breath, allow yourself to calm down, and consider the benefits of working out a solution together.
9. Avoid bringing up past mistakes or transgressions. Your fights should address current issues. What happened three years ago is off-limits. Keep your attention on the present.
10. It doesn’t matter what others think. Your best friend’s opinion doesn’t matter. Neither does the opinion of your partner’s mother. The only opinions that matter are yours and your partner’s.
11. Accept responsibility. Try to use the word “I” more than you use the word “you.” Discuss your opinions, feelings, and wishes. Consider what part you’ve had in the disagreement. It’s not just the other person’s fault.
Keep this rules in mind when fighting with your significant other. Fighting fairly requires restraint and maturity. Keep your eye on the prize, which is resolution. If your primary desire is to be right, you’re only prolonging your suffering. Fight fairly and you’ll strengthen your relationship.
~ Carey Stubblefield