We all have had them – fights with partners. We also have had the unfair arguments that lead to all out fights! Being in a relationship, each partner must learn to handle conflict and those difficult moments among your relationship. How you handle the bad moments affects your relationship in general, such as parenting your children or even the conversation topics you have over a meal.
Learning to fight fair can be hard, but using the following 10 tips from Kellee Khalil’s article, “10 Tips To Fight Fair With Your Partner” can help you focus on making a positive situation out of an argument.
- No name-calling: Calling your partner names is not just mean-spirited, it’s caustic, so avoid it at all costs. Similarly, avoiding hurtful or button-pushing remarks is key to having a healthy fight with your spouse. Skip the low blows and keep the argument respectful, open, and honest.
- Avoid “you always” and “you never.”: Speaking in absolutes is one way to guarantee you won’t be heard. Instead of saying, “You never help me with anything,” be specific and explain what happened that made you upset: “I was frustrated when you didn’t help me shovel the driveway.”
- Recognize what’s really bothering you: Instead of picking a fight over your love’s breakfast dishes in the sink, slow down and recognize why you’re really upset: Maybe you don’t feel like you’re getting enough support with the kids, or your partner doesn’t understand the pressure you’re facing at work. Whatever the underlying cause of your frustration, do your best to recognize it before getting into an argument.
- Don’t set out to “win;” set out to become closer: Don’t let yourself go to a dark place during an argument; remember that a resolution will actually make your relationship better. To do this, each partner should have an equal opportunity to speak and be heard—don’t plan out your rebuttal while your spouse is sharing her feelings.
- Negotiate and compromise, then establish a plan for moving forward: Once you’ve said your piece and actively listened to your spouse, be ready to negotiate and compromise. Both of you likely want to move forward from the argument, so talk through how you’ll make that happen, whether it’s a behavioral change, a scheduling change, or a new division of responsibilities.
- Consider taking a “cooling off” period or establishing a time-out word: Sometimes an argument gets so heated you just know you won’t be able to resolve it until you’ve calmed down. The old adage “don’t go to bed angry” is less-than-useful in these cases, so put your fight on pause—using a time-out word can help you to do this—and be sure you come back together and resolve the conflict when you’re both feeling more level-headed.
- Make sure you understand your partner’s grievance by summarizing it and repeating it back: For a fight to be fair, it’s critical for both partners to understand the other’s grievances. To ensure you’re getting the message, listen carefully to everything your partner is saying and repeat it back in your own words. This may sound tedious, but knowing that your partner is upset about how you reacted during a recent conversation—and isn’t saying you’re generally an inconsiderate listener—can stop a minor spat from escalating into a screaming match.
- Use touch and humor to cool down a heated argument: This might not be possible if you’re furious with each other, but if you’re less upset than your spouse, try using a gentle gesture or sharing a funny anecdote to break the tension.
- Respect your partner if he or she cries during an argument: Crying is a completely normal reaction to conflict, so show your partner the respect he or she deserves and allow the tears to flow without pointing to them as a weakness.
- Don’t multitask during an argument: A fight with your spouse is not the time to multitask. Show respect by sitting down together, preferably at the same level, and looking each other in the eye. Focusing on your spouse in this way will help you remember that you love this person and want to go back tobeing happytogether. That said, doing something physical together—like taking a walk—can really help you diffuse negative energy that might otherwise be directed toward your partner.
Fighting fair is about respecting your spouse, even in moments of disagreement. ~Desiree S. Coleman
If you struggle with fighting fair with your partner and need someone to help with your relationship, having someone to speak to can help! Give us a call to set up a free phone consultation at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378, and one of our Orlando Marriage Counselors, Orlando Couples Counselors or our Orlando Individual Counselors would be more than happy to be that someone to help you figure out where these arguments go wrong and how to improve them.