My man and I are at gridlock. What’s it about this time?
Teeth brushing. (He’s before breakfast, I’m after.) Each of us firmly believes we’re right (even though it’s obviously me).
It’s not just the little things we argue over. Like all couples, we have our ‘button pushing’ topics – housework, money, sex, parenting….
We’re never going to see eye to eye on everything, but we can learn to fight fair.
I’ve been reading up on this business of Fighting Fair and here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Stick to the issue
Don’t let fights sink into a free-for-all – bringing up past grudges or issues. Resist arguing because he forgot the milk when the real deal is about him not pulling his weight around the house.
2. Stay out of the playground
‘You’re such a loser’. ‘You’re just like your mother.’ No name calling or character assassination.
3. Use ‘I’ not ‘You’ and avoid ‘Always’ and ‘Never’
‘I’d really like us to spend more time together in the evenings’ is less likely to provoke a defensive response than, ‘You’re always out with your friends, you never make time for us’. It helps to get clear about what’s really bugging you and articulate it in a way that won’t automatically put him into defence mode.
4. Brainstorm and problem solve
Once you know why you’re disagreeing, you can begin to solve the problem. If you want him to help more around the house, but he thinks he’s doing enough, brainstorm together how you can both get some of what you want. Long lasting relationships always require compromises. Print out a Challenge Solver Action Sheet and use this tool to help you figure it out.
5. Time out
If it’s getting overheated, take a break. Time outs give you both the opportunity to cool down. You can come back to it later if it still feels important.
6. Take the olive branch
Accept attempts to diffuse the fight. Sometimes the unspoken gestures – a joke, a goofy grin, a light touch – can take the heat out of a fight. If the olive branch is there, grasp it. (Or try holding one out yourself.)
7. It’s better to be happy than to be right
I got this advice from a wise yoga teacher. It’s more important to find peace and harmony in your relationship than to win the war.
8. Know when to let it go
You’ll never agree on everything. And his opinion is just as valid and important to him as yours is to you. (Hard to believe sometimes, I know.)
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Will you share this with your partner to put you both on the same page? How do you make marriage feel less like war and more like peace? We’d love to hear your tips on fighting fair.