The Art Of Fighting Fair: 5 Things To Consider Before You Yell

By

Couples: Keeping The Peace In Your Relationship
Married couples need to have discussions, solve problems, as well as disagree.

Thirty years of marriage counseling and twenty-five years of a second marriage have convinced me that fights are not necessary in a marriage. Married couples need to have discussions, they need to solve problems, and sometimes they need to disagree, but they don't need to squabble, argue, bicker or fight. Fights are dramatic, which is not helpful to a discussion. If you have enough energy to create drama, you have more than enough to tone it down into a discussion. However, because social expectations and mythology are so strong, many of my clients want guidelines for "fighting fair". I've developed a set of Fair Fight Guidelines you may find helpful.

Guidelines To Fighting Fair: If you feel a fight is unavoidable, you can still find a win-win resolution if you follow these guidelines.

 

  1.  Remember the point of the fight is to reach a solution, not to win, be right, or make your partner wrong.
  • Don't try to mind read. Ask instead of what he or she is thinking.
  • Don't bring up all the prior problems that relate to this one. Leave the past in the past; keep this about one recent problem. Solve one thing at a time.
  • Keep the process simple. State the problem, suggest some alternatives, and choose a solution together.
  • Don't talk too much at once. Keep your statements to two or three sentences. Your partner will not be able to grasp more than that.
  • Give your partner a chance to respond and to suggest options.

2.    Practice equality. If something is important enough to one of you, it will inevitably be important to both of you, so honor your partner's need to solve a problem.

  • Ask and answer questions directly. Again, keep it as simple as possible. Let your partner know you hear him or her.
  • State your problem as a request, not a demand. To make it a positive request, use "I" messages and and say please.
  • Don't use power struggle tactics: guilt and obligation, threats and emotional blackmail, courtroom logic: peacekeeping, sacrificing, or hammering away are off limits.

3.  Know your facts. If you're going to fight for something, know the facts about the problem: Do research, find out what options are available, and know how you feel and what would solve the problem for you.

  • Ask for changes in behavior. Don't criticize character, ethics or morals.
  • Don't fight over who's right or wrong. Opinions are opinions, and that won't solve the problem. Instead, focus on what will work.
  • Ask your partner if he or she has anything to add to the discussion. "Is there anything else we need to discuss now?"
  • Don't guess what your partner is thinking or feeling. Instead, ask."What do you think?" Or "How do you feel about it?"
  • Hold hands, look at each other, remember you’re partners.
  • If you're angry, express it calmly. "I'm angry about ……" There’s no need for drama, and it won't get you what you want. Anger is satisfied by being acknowledged, and by creating change. Anger is a normal emotion—rage is phony, it's drama created by not taking care of yourself.

4.  Acknowledge and honor your partner's feelings — don't deflect them, laugh at them or freak out. They're only feelings, and they subside when respected, heard and honored.

  • Listen with your whole self. Paraphrase what your partner says; check to see if you understand by repeating what is said. "So you are angry because you think I ignored you. Is that right?"

5.  Don't use personal attacks or criticism. Focus on solving the problem.

  • If you want to let off steam (vent), ask permission or take a time out. Handle your excess emotion or energy by being active (run, walk, hit a pillow,) writing, or talking to someone who is not part of the problem. Don't direct it personally at anyone. You can't vent and solve problems at the same time.
  • Don't try to solve a problem if you're impaired: tired, hungry, drunk or unstable.
  • Surrender to your responsibility. When you become aware that you have made a mistake, admit it and apologize. Use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Remember — fighting doesn't actually solve problems so make sure you effectively communicate your feelings. At the same rate, make sure you respect your partners feelings. Following the guidelines will help you resolve your issues peacefully and quickly! 

More couples advice on YourTango

This article was originally published at Tina B. Tessina. Reprinted with permission.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr. Tina Tessina

Author

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.
http://www.tinatessina.com
tina@tinatessina.com
562-438-8077
Dr. Romance Blog: http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/
http://www.twitter.com/tinatessina
http://www.facebook.com/#!/DrRomanceBlog
Amazon author page http://amzn.to/rar7RC
 

Location: Long Beach, CA
Credentials: LMFT, MFT, PhD
Other Articles/News by Dr. Tina Tessina:

Dear Dr. Romance: is it natural for a man to masturbate?

By

Dear Dr. Romance: I am single man, I have question for you, is it natural for a man to masturbate? I normally, do it everyday, sometimes 4 times a day. Tell me if its wrong or normal to fantasize my cousin and she is a woman? Is it that wrong thing to do? I love to masturbate and to me its fun and great feeling. Do you have any advice. I want to know if ... Read more

Surviving Loss and Thriving Again

By

None of us wants to think about it, but the standard definition of a totally successful relationship is the old, traditional “til death do us part.” Any time we love, whether it’s a life partner, a dear friend, a child, a sibling, a parent or even a beloved pet, we are risking the loss of that love. When you’re happy with someone, ... Read more

Dr. Romance on Silver and Gold: secrets to making and keeping fri

By

Make new friends, keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.——adage Research conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish and others shows that the happiest and healthiest people are those who are well-connected to friends and family. But, in our mobile society, keeping friends is not always possible. Long-term friendships are wonderful and valuable, but ... Read more

See More

 
My Videos
ASK YOURTANGO MORE QUESTIONS
Most Popular