Do you and your partner fight fair? How you fight has a direct impact on the health, happiness and security of your relationship. It is not the conflict that is the problem, it is how the conflict is managed that matters most. Heed these rules for fighting fair and you will be rewarded:
- RULE #1: NO DEGRADING LANGUAGE – Avoid name-calling, insults, put-downs or swearing.
- RULE #2: NO BLAMING -It is pointless to blame each other and it distracts from solving the problem at hand. It also invites your partner to be defensive and it escalates the conflict.
- RULE #3: NO DEFENSIVENESS -Avoid righteous indignation; innocent victimhood or counter attacks as a means of protecting yourself from criticism or attack by your partner.
- RULE #4: NO YELLING OR SARCASM – If it feels like yelling or sarcastic contempt to your partner, then it probably is. Make a conscious effort to lower your voice and speak respectfully.
- RULE #5: NO USE OF FORCE – Including pushing, shoving, grabbing, hitting, punching, slapping, restraining, throwing objects or damaging property. We all have a right to feel safe from all forms of abuse.
- RULE #6: NO THREATS OF DIVORCE/LEAVING THE RELATIONSHIP – Threatening to end the relationship in the heat of an argument is manipulative, hurtful and undermines trust and security.
- RULE #7: USE “I” STATEMENTS VERSUS “YOU” STATEMENTS – Describe how you feel, what you want, what you think, and what is important to you – not what your partner feels, wants or thinks (this is often a projection).
- RULE #8: STAY IN THE PRESENT – Keep your focus on what can be done today to resolve the issue at hand.
- RULE # 9: KEEP TO THE TOPIC AT HAND – Avoid bringing up past grievances or including a laundry list of complaints.
- RULE #10: TAKE TURNS SPEAKING -One person speaks at a time. The other REALLY listens – no tuning out, planning rebuttals, interrupting, or correcting the person speaking.
- RULE #11: WHEN NECESSARY, USE TIME OUTS -If you are in limbic hijack (your heart rate is above 95 bpm), you are not in a state of mind for problem solving. Respectfully time yourself out.
- RULE #12: NO STONEWALLING -If you time yourself out, you MUST reinitiate the conversation as soon as possible.
- RULE #13: NO “OFFTHETABLEITIS” – Do not take topics off the table just because you may find them to be uncomfortable.
Until next time, peace.