“Couples are either divided fighting each other
or united fighting someone or something else.”
After 23 years of marriage, resolving countless disagreements, researching partnerships and interviewing numerous guests on the topic of relationships, I consider myself a relationship expert.
One thing I have learned over the years is that there is no “one size fits all” approach to fighting on the relationship battlefield. Anyone who has been in a long-term relationship can appreciate that fact. Truthfully, discord is an inevitable and tricky distraction in any union. Why do you argue in the first place? Your personality, motives and fighting style determine why and how you spar.
When heated bouts erupt, your dominant fighting style takes over. What is your fighting style? Are you a destructive or constructive fighter?
Ask yourself these five important questions:
"Fair Fight" Questions
- Do you recognize yourself or your partner uttering and thinking the following:
- Are you or your partner a practitioner of Newton’s Third law of relationships, believing that every action deserves an equal and opposite reaction?
- Do you or partner enjoy provoking a reaction?
- Are you or your partner the type that silently boils pretending that things are “cool” while secretly waiting to take revenge?
- Are you or your partner the type that retreats, walks away and/or refuses to "talk things out"?
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If you answered "yes" to any of these questions then you’ve got work to do. You or your partner (or both) may likely be DESTRUCTIVE fighters. Of course, you’re not like this all the time… you may find yourself switching styles depending on whom you are fighting, what is at stake and your frame of mind. Remember, failure to resolve arguments constructively can lead to failed relationships, broken hearts and a deep sense of loss- after it's too late. To avoid this, you must learn to engage and resolve or “fight fair” to ensure a peaceful and joyful relationships.
Quick and Easy Ways To Win Every Fight
All things considered, ‘’fighting fair’’ is an afterthought for most people. During relationship warfare, emotions run high and good sense runs low. This spells trouble.
So what can you do? How can you avoid the pitfalls that lead to "ragged love"? Here are 12 tips that have helped me over the years:
- Get your emotions under control - Take several deep breaths. Lower your heartbeat and calm down. Stay in control. Don’t talk when you are enraged, tired or hungry. Simply,calm down and get in the right state of mind. You will be better off. Get your heart in the right place – get a hold of your emotions by asking yourself: “Will I get what I want by behaving in this manner?”
- Create a safe environment where you both can interact - Don’t attack your partner. Withhold judgment. No brow beating. Don’t react to a bad reactions. Don’t call you partner out of their name- only use their birth name. Avoid using profanity.
Make the environment safe by practicing the four “No’s” -
- No counter punches - Call for “time out” when things are getting out of control or if you’re still feeling hostility towards your partner.
- No kidney or liver punches - these "punches" are nasty comments that do a lot of collateral damage to the relationship. Monitoring your words are a must.
- No “sucker” punches - don’t raise destructive issues that will catch your partner off guard.
- No “dirty fighting” - no secret audio or video recordings allowed.
- No hitting “below the belt” - be respectful. Don’t exploit your partner’s weaknesses.
- Gossip is not the Gospel - Fight fair by sticking to ‘’the facts’.” Avoid gossip, rumors and "he said she said" discussions.
- Explore each other’s concerns - Keep your mouth shut and let your partner speak. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Step into his or her shoes- feel your partner’s hurt. Be tastefully honest not brutally honest. Use constructive phrases such as “what can I do to resolve this”, “how do we avoid this in the future.” Take responsibility for your contribution to the problem. “I apologize” always helps.
- Watch your facial expressions - Try this tip: “back-to-back fighting” – turn your backs to one another and you will be less likely to react to negative facial expressions (make sure you mutually agree beforehand to avoid confusion). After both of you calm down, turn towards each other and continue to resolve the situation.
- Use the past as a learning tool not as a weapon - Don’t bring up past resolved issues to score points and win the argument (you will never win). Use the past problems as a lesson not to attack your partner.
- Keep the end in mind - Your objective should always be to solve a problem, not win the fight. Remember the old adage, "win the battle, lose the war.”
- Use your best behavior to resolve the argument - Where possible, discuss problems in a public setting. No one wants to make a scene. Use "indoor voices" - your neighbors don’t need a ringside seat to witness your fight.
- Set boundaries and ground rules -- in advance - Agree to a time limit. Most battles can be settled in less than 45 minutes, if both parties are committed to working work things out. Show respect for each other. Pick your battles! Some fights are just not worth the trouble. Agree to stick to the ground rules. One partner needs to call the other partner out (gently) when a ground rule is violated. Then, get back in the fight.
- Use humor--selectively - Humor can disarm and defuse tension. Be careful with your timing! Make sure your partner understands that you’re laughing with them, not at them.
- Relax and learn to live with one another - Cut each other some slack. We are all under pressure and are overworked. Remember, everyone you meet is fighting a private battle. Remember to honor the three C’s in any relationship: communicate, commit and connect. Appreciate your partner - Ask yourself “what do I admire about this person?” Once you have an answer, tell your partner!
- Remember that disagreements are normal in a relationship – Consistent bickering does not mean the relationship is doomed. All it takes is time to sort out the issues one by one.
I hope these rules will help you as they have helped me in the difficult times. You are better using your energy to solve problems outside of your relationship than fighting with your partner. Bottom line, you can live happily ever after as long you both are up to a “fair fight.”
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