Drop the boxing gloves and learn to fight with purpose

By

Fighting is tough. The name calling, the false accusations, the heart hurts… and often no positive results. That’s because couples usually aren’t fighting with purpose, but instead are fighting to win. If you or your partner engage in a fight with the goal of winning, you have already lost because you are making the argument a battle, instead of about resolving an issue. If it helps, before you jump into a fight, recall five things that you love about your guy. Remember, he is not your enemy – he has just done something that has made you unhappy at the moment. So instead, use your next fight as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship by understanding each other a little bit better. Sounds hard to do, I know, so here are some rules to help you fight fairly and with purpose.

KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE.
When you initiate an argument, think ahead of time about what your goal is, and stay focused on it. Otherwise you could end up running in circles into a never-ending argument.

TANGO FOR TWO.
Your business is nobody else’s business. Not your neighbor’s, not the diner’s at the table next to your’s and certainly not your kid’s. A fight should occur privately. If it can’t wait until you can find a quiet place, pass notes.

DIG DEEP.
Go beyond surface problems. If your partner always leaves his dirty socks next to instead of in the laundry basket, think about why that really bothers you and address the deeper meaner instead of just ranting about the socks.

MAINTAIN CONTROL.
Use a calm voice and a clear mind. It is not ok to be childish or abusive (physically or emotionally) when fighting. Voice your feelings in a constructive way – that way your partner will want to hear you. Pause and think before speaking if you need to.

READY, AIM, DON'T FIRE.
Avoid all personal attacks. Instead use “I” statements. In doing so you have complete ownership of your feelings and your partner won’t jump to a defense mode as easily. Name calling, cursing and any other bad behavior is also a no-no.

STAY IN THE PRESENT.
Issues of yesteryear that have been put to bed should stay there. Further, it is key to place boundaries around the topic at hand so that you don’t run the risk of running off on tangents and creating an unmanageable laundry list of arguments for which none, including the original, will be solved.

LOSE THE THREATS.
Firing off threats or ultimatums devalues a relationship. When you are committed to someone you are willing to work through the struggle of challenges you face. By stating otherwise makes the recipient of such a threat question your commitment.

ALL FEELINGS ARE THE RIGHT FEELINGS.
De-validating someone’s feelings is one of the cruelest things you can do in a fight, especially if it is difficult for that person to open up. Although you may not believe or agree with the stated emotion, don’t rob your partner of it. Likewise, don’t tell your mate how he should feel. Let feelings arise naturally.

LEARN TO COMPROMISE.
There is nearly always a middle ground to be reached in a situation, or at least a place where no one feels like they are completely losing out. Find it.

SET A TIME LIMIT.
Determine how long you are willing to discuss something before you need a break. Eventually arguments become stale – repetitive and unproductive and a 10 minute break can restore and refocus thoughts and emotions.

CONCLUDE A FIGHT KINDLY.
Establish an end of fight ritual that no matter what, you and your partner employ. A hug, a kiss, saying “I love you,” or “I’m sorry for my part” all work well.

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Tristan Coopersmith

Marriage and Family Therapist

Tristan Coopersmith, M.A. MFTi
www.tristancoopersmith.com

Location: Hermosa Beach, CA
Credentials: BA, MA, MFTI
Other Articles/News by Tristan Coopersmith:

How to Get Some HOT Single Girl Action this Valentine's Day!

By

Being single on Valentine’s Day sucks. There I said it. And it isn’t just THE day that blows, it is all the days leading up to it. It is going to your local Target only to be bombarded with Valentine Day specials. It is the questioning of friends about what you will do on that night to avoid being a lonely heart. It is the Kay Jewelers ... Read more

3 Reasons You Must Stop Shopping for a Husband

By

There are scads of articles and books written promising a foolproof formula to finding a husband. Usually they include a step by step guide with a guarantee of success in x number of days. If you are a reader of these, time to toss them and whatever manipulation they have down to your head and heart and it is time to get real! The thing is, love takes time ... Read more

Are You Willing to Work For Love?

By

I’m a big believer in universal energy. I believe that everything in the universe is on loan to us to leverage as we need. I believe that we are born to love and born to be loved. I believe that it is EVERYONE’S divine right to experience rich, gorgeous, healthy, sustainable love. But what I don’t believe is that all you need to do is sit ... Read more

See More

Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.