As Teri mentioned, fighting can be healthy, as long as it's done in a respectful way. Conflict can be one of the ways you and another person grow closer. It's natural for people to disappoint us in our lives, but how we handle it is key. Continue to follow these fair fighting steps this week, and you'll find yourself more successful at tackling difficult conversations. 6. No absolute thinking. Words like "Always, never, every time, all the time, etc." are off limits. Using one of these phrases will result in your partner trying to remember any evidence they can think of to combat your statement. This distracts them from listening to the rest of your concern.
7. Speak your needs. Tell your partner what you need from them in the moment. If you need help problem solving, just venting, needing support or empathy, it is important for your partner to be informed of your expectations. They can't read your mind.
8. No one-upping. this is when one person introduces a gripe, and your partner responds with "Yeah, but you did ____ last week and I didn't say anything." Doing this minimizes your partners concern and tells them that you are only worried about making yourself look better rather than owning your faults. If your partner has a legitimate gripe to bring up, gently request that you discuss the initial concern first, and that you will visit their issue once the first one is resolved.
9. Time outs are ok. Sometimes we just need a break from the heat of a discussion. Give yourselves permission to call a time out. the key to this is setting a time limit and making a commitment to come back to it. It is important to respect a time out once it is called. Following your partner into the bedroom yelling at them is not respecting their time out. Time outs are not avoiding or running away from the issue if you make a deal to come back to it at a specific time (i.e. after dinner, when I get back from the store, etc.).
10. No manipulative cheap shots (i.e. "You don't love me", "You must not care about me", "You are just like your mother", etc.)
The more you practice these when in a heated discussion, the more successful at it you'll become. Maybe you want to identify 1 or 2 of these to start off with and work on them wholeheartedly. Remember, the goal is progress, not perfection. Stay tuned for the next 10 Guidelines!
Written by: Tamara Portee MA, LMHC, LCAC
*Tamara enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, & couples counselingat Imagine Hope. We also specialize in family counseling, child & adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield & Fishers.