HOW TO FIGHT FAIRLY
Even the healthiest of marriages will see their share of conflict. It is not IF you fight, but HOW you fight which will determine how satisfied your relationship will be. Keep these rules in mind to create a greater sense of safety, structure and predictability when you experience conflict:
- Remember that to preserve and protect your relationship, you goal needs to be to SOLVE THE PROBLEM not WIN THE FIGHT!
- See yourself as being on the same team. Handling conflict more effectively can lead you to better perspective taking, understanding and cooperation.
- Take turns speaking and listening. When you are listening, REALLY LISTEN! Don’t just plan your next winning point.
- Be in touch with your anger levels. If you are anywhere above a 3 or 4 out of 10 on the way to RAGE, take a break to cool down. Don’t even think of starting the conversation unless you feel calm and reasonable.
- No name-calling. No abusive language. No physical force or threat of force. Never Ever.
- No using the “D” word. Yes, you are allowed to feel hurt, frustrated and angry, but it is never okay to threaten to leave in the midst of an argument. That only increases anxiety and fears of abandonment, and will guarantee that you won’t solve the problem.
- Identify and communicate your own experience:
“I would appreciate…..” versus accusing your partner of behaviours or motives.
- Keep the focus on one issue at a time. Don’t bring up every other criticism from the Past.
- When you need a break, use the following formula as a guide:
“I am feeling overwhemed right now. I am going to go take some time to cool off and get my thoughts together. This is important to me to resolve and you deserve to have me at my best. Let’s continue this talk after we put the kids to bed.”
It is so very important to let your partner know you are coming back and you are not just walking away.
- Summarize the resolution you created. If you came up with a new plan of action, write it down. Commit to a time to check back in with each other to evaluate how your plan is working out.
Learn more about Marriage Therapy and Sharon Carlton, Registered Psychologist