Welcome to my blog! Let’s start out with some basics for fighting fair. Many couples engage in conflict in ways that are destructive to their relationship and to each other. Conflict is inherent in any committed partnership. In fact, it is present in many other kinds of relationships in which we find ourselves; with other family members, co-workers, friends, the out-of-control little league parent who thinks he/she coaches the team, etc. Below is a list of rules for fair fighting. This list is not exhaustive, but it does cover some important basics. If you adhere to these rules, your relationships will likely improve, your conflicts will resolve more peacefully and you will avoid the gridlock that plagues too many couples. I look forward to exploring each of these rules in more depth in coming posts.
RULES FOR FAIR FIGHTING
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.