Disagreements are a normal part of any committed relationship. But if you’re not careful, sparks can fly. In that case, you and your partner end a disagreement feeling attacked and the aftermath can last days, weeks or longer.
Many couples are so used to hurting each other when a fight comes up that they struggle even to believe there’s a better way. They envision every couple going into an all-out war when tension arise.
Thankfully, there’s a better way. You can learn the art of fighting with kindness and compassion and watch your life drastically improve in the process.
So, what can you do to fight fairly? Here are some great first steps.
When You’re Fighting, Your Partner is Not the Enemy
The first thing to always remember before a fight is that your partner is not the enemy.
The Problem is the enemy. That Problem seeks to divide and destroy your relationship. It seeks to infuriate you and cause you to obliterate your relational wellness.
But you’re smarter than that, right? You bet you are.
Whether the fight is over in-laws, finances, trust issues, or raising your children, the real enemy is your difficulty. You’re a team and as a team, you need to work together to solve what’s bugging you.
Plan Ahead for Fighting with Your Partner. No, that doesn’t mean you each schedule a time in your day planner so you can duke it out.
It means you recognize that fights will happen in the future and so you set some guidelines for fighting fairly.
What are some healthy guideline ideas? Below is a list you can customize to include other points you value.
Post it somewhere like your bedroom for a little extra accountability (it doesn’t have to be out in full view of guests :).
Afraid you won’t abide by your safe-fighting guidelines? Why not have your next disagreement right where your list is hanging?
Guidelines for Fighting with Kindness and Compassion:
Keep it away from the kids
Refrain from name calling
Don’t insult your partner’s family (they’re allowed to insult their own family but agreeing with them too heartily could be dangerous)!
Don’t bring up past issues you’ve already forgiven each other for.
Try to avoid settling a problem when you’re excessively tired or stressed.
If you can’t follow the above ground rules, take a timeout for a while. This can mean jogging or going for a grocery run, for instance. Sustaining damage isn’t worth it, though.
If you feel the guidelines you set aren’t enough or that you keep fighting about the same thing over and over, seek help as quickly as possible.
Hold each other for a while after the argument to maintain physical and emotional closeness (even if/or you don’t feel like it).
Don’t believe for a minute that fighting with kindness and compassion only happens in fairy-tale land.
This definitely isn’t fairy-tale land yet many partners fight every day and still feel connected afterward.
You can, too!
Psychiatrist, Mark Banschick, M.D., summed it up well when he said the following: “Learn how to fight fair. It’s a pragmatic act of love. And, it is doable.”