Let’s be realistic and accept that couples fight. If you have never had a disagreement with your partner then you probably aren’t expressing yourself or discussing serious issues. Fights are so difficult but, if done right, they can have extremely successful results. You want to feel comfortable expressing your viewpoint and you want to stand up for yourself, but what should you do if you get in a fight?
I just read the most amazing advice from the fabulous Dr. Phil about “How to Fight Fair.” I strongly advise every couple to read these tips and discuss them together so you can use fights to solve problems in your relationship instead of making problems worse. Here is my advice for how to fight, inspired by the Dr. Phil article:
- Keep it private. Don’t fight in public or in front of family and friends (especially your children). It is unnecessary and makes other feel uncomfortable. You also don’t need to hear advice or judgments about your fights from others…it will be easier to resolve if you keep it private.
- Keep it relevant. Don’t bring up old issues that you already resolved or situations that occurred a long time ago. Discuss what is happening now and move on from the past. When you are angry it is definitely tempting to throw everything out there that has ever angered you in the relationship, but that will only make the situation regress.
- Don’t be mean. Hurtful comments can linger for a long time. Don’t let yourself get so angry that you resort to attacking the other person with hurtful and mean words. Be mature and reasonable and don’t let your emotions so quickly that they get out of hand.
- Remain task-oriented. If you don’t know what the point of your argument is, then you don’t need to be fighting. Don’t start a fight unless you know what your goal is. Remember what you want to accomplish and stick to it instead of letting other issues get in the way.
- Accept and respect apologies. Don’t get so caught up in the argument that you don’t listen when your partner gives in or apologizes. You don’t need to keep hammering away at the same issue if you have reached a resolution. Be thankful and respectful for their apology because we all know that it’s difficult to admit that we’re wrong or that we need to change. The important thing to remember is that your purpose is to resolve an issue, so stop when you have achieved this.
- Be proportional with your intensity. Don’t blow the situation out of proportion just because the argument elevates. Remember the issue that you are discussing and treat it accordingly. If a small issue is “the straw that broke the camel’s back” then you need to explain the bigger issue so your boyfriend isn’t caught completely off-guard by a blowout over a small disagreement.
- Be in touch with the other person’s emotions. Don’t get so caught up in arguing that you don’t realize when your partner is getting hurt by your words. The issue could be extremely difficult for them to discuss and you need to remember that the argument involves their emotions as well as yours. Sometimes you get so caught up in defending your situation and proving your point that you forget that the person who you love on the opposite side of the argument could be getting their feelings significantly damaged.
Reference: Relationships/Sex: “How To Fight Fair” on DrPhil.com
Image: Ed Yourdon on Flickr