10 Ways to Fight Fair With Your Spouse
In the heat of battle with our husband, it’s so easy to hit below the belt, and so hard to keep our cool and fight fair, especially when he isn’t. But, if we don’t take the high road, bitter fighting can destroy our relationship. In fact, studies show that one negative comment or argument can negate dozens of positive interactions between you and your husband.
Fighting in marriage is pretty much a fact of life. Understanding that fact, and taking deliberate steps to engage in conflict from the standpoint of committed love, is one of the most important things married couples can learn to do.
Learning how to “fight fair” can make all the difference.
1. Nice girls do finish first: Kindness may well be the strongest card you can play in a disagreement. Conflict can be defined by hostility and contempt, or it can be defined by kindness and respect. The choice is yours.
2. Use “I” statements: This means taking ownership of your feelings rather than blaming your husband. “I need some help because I’m getting overwhelmed with the kids’ schedule,” works better than, “You never help me with the kids and I’m sick and tired of it.”
3. Plan ahead: You can’t always anticipate when a fight is going to erupt, but if there’s an issue that’s brewing, use this conflict worksheet to compose your thoughts before you dive in.
4. Don’t argue historically: Stay in the moment. Laying out an annotated history of your spouse’s shortcomings simply fuels the fire.
5. Resist the urge to keep score. Scorekeeping assumes a winner and a loser. The point of fair fighting is to promote the relationship. There are no losers when the relationship is strengthened.
6. Take the high road: Tit-for-tat is a shortcut to escalation. The high road is the first step toward reconciliation. Taking the high road recognizes that conflict represents an opportunity rather than an indictment. The high road says, “This disagreement helps me understand where I need to grow.” [Escalation: one of the four communication patterns that destroy marriage]
8. Change and acceptance. The only person you can change is you. Accept the differences between men and women. Accept that your husband is different from you.
9. Child-free zone. Never use your children as leverage. If you can’t fight “nice” don’t fight in front of your children. If you do let them see you having a real blowout, apologize and tell them that you and Daddy are working on doing better.
10. Follow the rules. Think ahead about how you and your husband will fight. Make a plan in advance (this conflict worksheet can help) so you have a better chance of keeping things calm when arguments do happen.
Related Resource: 4 Negative Style of Fighting
Pillow Talk: End your day talking with your child
What do you think dad and I argue you about the most? How does that make you feel?
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