How to "Fight" Fair
During any long term relationship, there will come a time when you will argue with your partner. No matter how good natured your relationship is, arguing is part of living, and at some point you will find yourself in a sparring match with your best friend.
When arguments turn nasty, or happen too frequently, it can cause friction that ultimately leads to divorce. Maintaining a good relationship doesn't mean never arguing, it simply means learning how to fight fair. Luckily, working with your partner to discuss your problems without turning it into warfare can be broken up into 3-4 simple steps.
When you sense a big argument coming, it's natural to feel a fight or flight instinct kick in. Your heart starts to pound, blood pressure rises, and emotion fuels you. This is no way to have a productive conversation, and what you'll get out of it is only a fight, pure and simple.
Instead, make a code word for each other that signals you need time to cool down. Once you guys have both cooled off, you'll have the capacity to think while discussing the problem, not just argue.
Don't interupt each other
When your partner says something you feel is wrong, it's tempting to just jump in and correct their point of view, but according to most therapists, that's the wrong way to go about it. When you interrupt, you're not actually listening to hear what the other person is saying. You're listening in order to respond.
When you listen in order to respond, all you're trying to do is control what the other person is thinking and feeling—not healthy for a relationship. When you argue, never interrupt, even if you feel what they are saying is wrong.
Don't lash out
When you're in the midst of an argument, sometimes anger just takes over. It's tempting to hit 'below the belt' during an argument by bringing up past wrongs, or calling the other person names. When an argument degenerates to these levels, nothing productive will come out of it.
Bringing up past wrongs won't help with a problem that is taking place in the present. Even if your spouse really has forgotten your mother's birthday or didn't show up for your daughter's big recital, if the discussion is about something else entirely, bringing these things up will only distract from working out the current issue.
Couples who fight fair tend to be happier in their relationships than couples who don't. Every partnership is going to have its fair share of troubles, but how you go about addressing these problems will determine whether your arguments come to a resolution, or end with both parties wedged farther apart than ever before.
Fighting fair may not resolve your arguments, but it will give both of you a chance to have your views respected, and in the end this will build a stronger partnership with your spouse.
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