7 Tips For Fighting Fair in a Relationship
Do happy couples argue? Is there a thing called fighting fair with a partner?
The fact is, all relationships, even healthy ones will always have conflicts.
Whenever two people with different backgrounds, ideas, emotions, dreams, opinions and thoughts about life get together, there’s bound to be conflict in one form or another.
Conflict means you only disagree on something
It doesn’t have to mean you still don’t love each other; it’s just a clash of differences unless you want it to be more.
If every relationship has conflict one way or another, what separates healthy from unhealthy relationships at these particular times?
The answer is found in “how” people involved in healthy relationships deal with their conflicts and resolve to continue fighting fair in marriage or close relationships.
Here are 7 tips on fighting fair in relationships.
By following these fair fighting rules for couples, the relationship can continue growing healthy.
- Don’t hold grudges
- There are no winners or losers
- Say “I’m sorry” when wrong
- Don’t assume things
- Negotiate a time to talk about it
- Don’t criticize
- Stay with the topic
1. Don’t hold grudges
So, what is the first step in fair fighting? Let go of grudges and bitterness.
The fastest way to drain energy and passion from yourself and your relationships, is through holding grudges.
There will always be something in every relationship that causes some type of hurt even if it wasn’t meant to happen.
Sometimes we all hurt each other through careless words when frustrated, forgetting important events, or otherwise simple things that go wrong.
Even healthy relationships experience this, but we choose not to store the hurts once the other party asks for forgiveness, and move on with building the relationship.
Ask any carpenter who has ever built anything with a hammer. They’ll tell you that there were times when they whacked their thumbs really hard and it really hurt.
After they got over the pain, they didn’t shout and curse about the building being stupid and started developing hatred for the hammer, they were simply a lot more careful the next time around.
We do the same thing in healthy relationships, we make mistakes that really hurt sometimes, but we choose to be more careful next time around. That’s one of the first rules for fighting fair.
2. There are no winners or losers
If you start creating a winner and loser in your fights, what you’re really doing is making the other person your enemy.
Do you really wish to alienate yourself from your partner by becoming their enemy when you both should be seeking a solution to the problem?
You must always understand that even though you disagree, you’re on the same side working towards the same goal.
Any seperation you create at this time will only get worse during the next fight and will act as a wedge to drive you both apart.
Both of your goals at this point is to find a suitable compromise for the problem, stay focused on the solution, and not focus on who is winning or losing.
If you focus on who won or lost, pretty soon you’ll both end up losers; losing each other.
3. Say “I’m Sorry” when you’re wrong
You’d be amazed how far “I’m sorry” will go with your partner during times of conflict.
These simple and few words can have an awesome power to make things right again when you use them sincerely.
We often don’t really like to admit that we were wrong because for some of us, we were taught that mistakes are a sign of failure. That is one of the don’ts of fighting fair with your spouse.
As a helpful insight here is an interesting research on apologies in close relationships.
While we all make mistakes, in healthy relationships we own up to them and are not afraid to admit that we were wrong. Next time you’re wrong, just apologize.
4. Don’t assume things
Everyone has the right to explain and speak for themselves, but we often “jump to conclusions” or assume we know what happened or what they’ll say.
Many times after we’ve been with someone for a while and we’re a little knowledgeable about their ways of doing things, we begin to believe that we are experts in their character and behavior patterns.
This will often lead us to believing that we’re one step ahead of them in their speech, manner and even thinking; that’s a lie.
We must be careful to allow our partners to express themselves in ways they feel right to, and often ask for an understanding of what they’re actually saying without forming our own ideas and opinions.
Remember, you are not an expert of you partner’s thoughts!
Let them explain themselves. To prevent an argument from escalating into a horrible tsunami learn the rules for fighting fairly.
5. Negotiate a time to talk
There are times when we can pick the worst times to become involved in a conflict with someone.
Personally, the worst time for me is when I’m tired. I don’t particularly care to have discussions at these points simply because if I’m frustrated, I can say some pretty mean things that’ll hurt your feelings.
Now while I’m usually a nice person, when I’m tired, I tend not to really think before I open my mouth and usually end up with “my foot in it.”
Experience has taught us that it is at this point that we explain exactly how we feel to each other, and compromise on a later time to discuss whatever matter that seems so important.
So, the next commandment for fighting fair is negotiating a conducive time to air your grievances.
We work to negotiate a time to talk simply because if the situation is bothering either of us, chances are it won’t be resolved until we’ve been heard and reached a satisfactory conclusion
6. Don’t criticize
Remember, in any conflict, you don’t take the position of winner, loser or critic, your role is to attack the problem, not the other person by criticizing them.
I’ve learnt that the quickest and easiest way to attack my wife in moments of conflict, is to begin my statements with “you”. Example – “You are always coming home late when you hang out with your friends.”
So, how to fight fair in a relationship?
What we’ve both learned to do is to express exactly how we feel without criticizing the other person for being the fault of our feelings.
Example – “I’ve got to tell you, I’m not too happy with how late you hang out with your friends all the time. I’m often worried that something is wrong when I don’t see or hear from you at a certain hour. Can you help me with this?”
What we’ve done is convert “you” to “I” which often disarms the other party and brought the problem instead of them into focus.
Now while doing this can require more thought and energy, but I’m sure you want a healthy relationship, so you won’t mind.
Just remember, conflict will inevitably arise, but your partnership will remain unscathed as long as you continue fighting fair with your significant other.
7. Stay with the topic
Never use a present concern as a reason to deal with everything that bothers you.
Never use stones from the past to throw at your partner in a current disagreement.
If there is something that needs to be said concerning the topic that you’re addressing, this is the right moment to do so.
Nothing is worse than a partner who keeps bringing up issues that I thought we’d already discussed and settled earlier; this puts me in an evasive mood the next time I see a fight brewing.
All healthy relationships require work, dedication, and time to grow; have patience with yours and you’ll soon surprise yourself with how quickly and strong your personal connection has grown.
As long as you are fighting fair and maintaining effective communication, nothing can sound the death knell for your relationship.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.