Recently I came across a blog headline promising to help couples achieve a marriage free of fighting. It certainly sounds desirable, but it’s not very realistic. You and your spouse are going to disagree from time to time, and let’s face it, in some of those moments you’re even going to argue. Having a healthy relationship isn’t about avoiding conflict; it’s about how you do handle things when you disagree. My previous post on communication is a good place to start on your quest to fighting fair.
Here are six more tips:
No scorekeeping: Remember that first fight of your marriage? The one you hashed out and then resolved. The key word here is “resolved.” If you already fought it and solved it, leave it be. Don’t rehash an old offense just to make a new point.
No name-calling: Your discussion should focus on the issue, your feelings, and potential resolution. There is no room for personal digs or insults. If your spouse forgot to do something as promised, resorting to statements like “You’re selfish and inconsiderate” isn’t a helpful approach for either of you.
No finger-pointing: Arguing who is at fault does little more than put you both on the defense. Focus instead on identifying the issue and then working together to find a solution.
No calling in reinforcements: This fight is between the two of you. Not the two of you, a best friend, a mother, and siblings. The only backup player allowed should be God, who you turn to in prayer or, if it comes to it, a professional marriage counselor.
Do listen: When we’re angry and hurt we want to be heard. When our spouse is sharing their hurt and disappointment, our instinct may be to interrupt and refute a point or make our case. Hit the pause button. Just listen.
Do plan ahead: Talk to your spouse now to decide upon the ground rules that are right for both of you. Remember, the basic tenet here is love and respect.
Challenge: What rules will you identify with your spouse? Pick a time this week and talk about it.