Nobody likes to fight. And it’s never feels good while it’s happening. But, fighting can actually be good for your relationship. Two different people are never gonna agree on everything. So, if we never fight, something’s wrong.
The problem isn’t that we fight, but how we fight*.
Here are some tips to help you FIGHT FAIR.
- Use “I” statements. “I feel…” “I need…” “I want…” Instead of “You make me so …”
- Stick to the topic at hand. Don’t bring up last week, last month, last year. And try to avoid words like “always” and never.”
- Take a time out. Give a time-out. When things get heated it’s really important to take a break and cool off. This is especially important for men, who “flood” (feel angry and like they need to get away) more quickly than women*.
- Don’t shut the other person out. And remember to call a time-in to finish discussing the issue. Because when women feel shut out, that’s when they “flood” (feel panicky and/or angry)*.
- Don’t go below the belt. Don’t go for the jugular. You know your partner’s sensitive spots more than anyone else. Don’t say something in the heat of the moment, that you’ll regret later.
- Know when to say “STOP.” Let the other person know when they’ve gone below the belt and that it’s — NOT OKAY.
If you need to talk about stuff from the past, or if you aren’t able to fight fair, it might be time to ask a counselor for help.
Remember, the goal is — for both of you to get what you need, without damaging each other or the relationship.
In fact, the real goal is to find ways to be happy together. That’s why fighting fair can actually bring you closer.
p.s. *To read more about this, check out John Gottman’s book, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail.