If you’re married or have been together long, odds are you’ve experienced a disagreement with your significant other. It’s not always a bad thing – sometimes even when it hurts at the time it can bring you two closer by bringing things to the surface that you didn’t know were there. It’s never fun to be at odds with the person you love, and your heart can take a beating if you let it, but if disagreements are going to happen (and trust me, they are!), then you may as well use it to the advantage of you both. It’s a delicate balance, but you CAN fight in healthy ways, and when you do, you can grow stronger because of it. Here are a few things to keep in mind for a fair fight that can actually HELP your relationship.
1. Don’t bring up hurts from the past
Piling up resentment in your heart isn’t healthy for you, but it’s especially unhelpful to your relationship if you unleash all the things you have been gritting your teeth about on your spouse just because that last little straw broke the camel’s back.
2. Take a breather but don’t retreat
I tend to shy away and go into the other room for a good cry and to think. A little breathing time if you’re too emotional (and if you’re like me, you usually are) won’t hurt, but it’s important not to let too much time lapse before you come together and try to resolve the issue. It’s uncomfortable to sit down and hash it out but the silent treatment for days isn’t any better for either of you, AND nothing gets done about it other than your heart becoming harder. Sit together, carefully talk it out and let your heart heal.
3. Remember that you’re on the same side
Working together to resolve the issue is vital. Working together means not against each other. Don’t forget that if one of you wins, that means the other loses. And if one of you loses, you both lose. Take a minute to help your partner win instead of battling against him.
4. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes
This takes honesty on your part to really move past yourself and see why they might feel hurt. This is not unlike #4 above. When you look at the big picture and not just your corner, you can start to see what you can change and how you can help your partner.
5. Acknowledge your role in the conflict
Fights often cause us to put up our defenses and never admit wrongdoing, but in a situation where there is hurt that you MAY have caused, just admitting you were wrong starts the process of healing. And despite what you may think in the moment, we usually all have a part we played in causing some hurt. It’s ok to admit that. It’s better to admit that.
6. Be very careful choosing your words
I’ve learned that just because I’m right doesn’t mean it has to be said, and often, it’s much, much better to hold my tongue. (And later when I understand that I wasn’t right, I’ve protected BOTH of us). It’s not about being a doormat, it’s about respect and wisdom to hold your words if they’re only going to be used to hurt. There’s no upside in causing pain to someone just to show them a point. If you can filter your argument through the eyes of love, you’ll say a lot less and get a lot more accomplished. This makes you stronger as a couple in the long run, with a lot fewer battle wounds.