10 Rules For Fighting Fair In Relationships
Couples who have regular air-clearing arguments have healthier relationships than those who keep their slings and arrows buried deep inside.However every fight need not be a bloody battle and here are tips how to keep it civil because this is the person whom it’s easiest to hurt, so you have to be careful with his or her feelings for the sake of your relationship.
1. Fight early, fight often
The idea is to get what’s bugging you off your chest when it first bugs you, rather than saving up hurts and slights for some giant blowup every six months or so, says Dr. Córdova. It’s about being clear and forthright.
2. Use “I” statements (the right way)
You’ve heard that “I” statements are the way to go: not “You always spend too much money!”, but “I get nervous about our financial situation when you spend without telling me.” But too many couples use the “I” statement as a bludgeon, says Kim Leatherdale, a New Jersey–based couples counselor. “You have to go beyond the complaint—’I hate when you come home late’—and add in a request, like, ‘I feel nervous when you’re out late; can you call when you’re delayed?'”
3. No biting! (No kidding!)
The “no biting” rule doesn’t just apply to literal chomping or other forms of physical abuse. No biting means no name-calling, and no making derogatory insults about your partner’s character, says Dr. Córdova. If you’re upset that he leaves clothes on the floor, saying “You’re such a pig!” is an attack. “The only thing he can do in response is defend himself by tossing an insult back. Not productive.”
4. No third parties
Complaining to friends and family about your partner’s slights only “muddies the issues and leaves bad feelings,” says Leatherdale. Sure, there are times you need a sounding board, but when you are actually in an argument with your partner, yelling something like, “Well, my friend Carol thinks you’re wrong, too!” won’t exactly enhance harmony.
If an argument comes up, “stop doing whatever else you’re doing,” says Leatherdale. That means no texting, watching TV, etc. until a resolution is met. Also, try to deal solely with the issue at hand, without bringing in other problems (you can have those fights later!).
6. Take a break
If either or both of you are getting super-heated, and taking a short breather hasn’t done the trick, you may need a longer time-out. Just say, “I need a break,” and separate for long enough to really cool down. Forty-five minutes is ideal to recover physiologically, says Dr. Córdova. “But don’t use cooldowns to retreat completely from the fight; you have to promise to come back to it later.” When arguments reach a boiling point, we react physiologically, with increased heart rate and blood pressure. “When you’re physiologically wound up, it’s virtually impossible to fight productively or fairly,” says Dr. Córdova.
7. Skip the silent treatment
Surprise: Turning a cold shoulder accomplishes nothing. “What you’re doing there is expecting your partner to read your mind about what’s wrong,” says Leatherdale. You may think you’re avoiding conflict, but you’re only making things worse, creating something else to fight about.
8. Agree to disagree sometimes
You’ll never resolve every argument, so sometimes it’s best to give in for the sake of your relationship. Leatherdale says a useful question to keep in mind is, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be married?” The idea is to respectfully agree that there are things you’ll never see eye-to-eye on.
9. No blaming
The aim of a fair fight is for both of you to take responsibility and work together to solve a problem. “If you put blame on your partner, the burden’s all on him to fix it,” says Leatherdale. And, to be fair, you shouldn’t place all the blame on yourself, either.
10. No below-the-belt remarks
In the heat of battle, it can be tempting to say the things you know will twist the knife in further, says Leatherdale. Hold your tongue; saying something like “No wonder your old girlfriend left you!” is the kind of mean slap that’s hard to take back later.
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