Having disagreements in your relationship is inevitable. In fact it’s healthy to fight. But it’s how you fight that really matters.
Fighting fair allows you and your partner an opportunity to gain strength, make growth, learn about each other, express vulnerabilities, and improve your relationship.
Tips to Fighting Fair:
1. Identify the Problem:
Identify the problem rather than focusing on your feelings. Dr. Pepper Schwartz said, “The problem isn’t the other person. The problem is the problem. As a team you will both attack the problem and solve it. Conflict is a way of really knowing each other and coming to a mutual decision that you can both live with and feel good about strengthens the marriage.” Stay focused on the problem.
2. One Issue:
Focus on one issue at a time. It’s easy to want to pull in other issues during conflict but it isn’t helpful. Staying focused on one issue at a time allows you to problem solve that one issue rather than getting off topic or triggered about something else.
Speak to each other with respect. Avoid hitting below the belt. If you are struggling to control your sharp tongue, take a time out. Go for a walk or take a break but then come back ready to work through the problem in a respectful manner. Attack the problem, not each other.
Allow your partner a chance to be heard. Listen to their viewpoint and validate their feelings. Rather than coming up with a rebuttal, try to reflect back what they are saying to you. “I heard that you are frustrated with the way I handled…” Feeling validated helps when working through an issue because that person feels heard.
Working through a problem as a team will strengthen you as a couple. Rather than going around the problem and trying to avoid it, you go through it together, and come out the other side as a stronger team.
Conflict will always seep its way into your relationship, just make sure you’re keeping the fights clean.
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