All couples fight, regardless of how great their partnership is. From who’s in charge of the dishes to what the right college is for the kids, being with a partner long-term means having a say, and trying to do it the right way!
So, since conflict is bound to happen, here are some tips to keep your fights above the belt and constructive, instead of destructive in your relationship.
Important Note: In these five things, it’s crucial to remember that the greatest tool overall is appreciation for your partner. When you show appreciation for your partner for the small things, you will both store up that positivity and then draw from that reserve when things get tough.
Slow Down and Listen: Fighting occurs because two people are making assumptions and then making statements. Don’t just wait for your turn to speak…truly listen, and then ask a follow-up question to understand more about what they are saying. Try saying something like “tell me more about that” to encourage better understanding.
Be the ‘Sportscaster’: When you are really listening to your partner, you are able to repeat back what they are saying to you, without any emotion attached. “So, what I hear you saying is that you are upset with me because I made plans without checking with you first.” It’s called the “Sportscasting” technique because you are simply translating the facts of the situation as they are being played out. Challenge yourself to simply check in and make sure that you understand what they are saying.
Watch your Boundaries and “Contracts”: When we are argue, out heart rates increase due to a surge of adrenaline. When your body is prepped to fight, you need to breathe deeply and ask for a moment to collect yourself. You can set a boundary by leaving the room for a moment and asking for space. (Disclaimer: If you ARE going to leave the conversation, you need to make a contract to return to it later so that the other person doesn’t feel abandoned or that you are avoiding the conflict altogether.)
Be Mindful When Using Your Memory: Trying to reconstruct a past event while fighting is one of the most common and frustrating mistakes because we always do it from the state of mind we are currently experiencing. No doubt, you will recall the event from a negative state of mind when you are already fighting with someone. Avoid fact-checking against each other because this can create a whole new level to the disagreement. Instead of focusing on the “he said/she said” of the situation, stay in the present and focus on the present feelings.
Watch the Yellow Lights and Red Lights: Pay attention to the signs within yourself that indicate that you might be nearing your limit. At all costs, avoid cussing at your partner, calling them names, and using extremes such as always and never. Those words tend to stick with people, therefore causing resentment that will be carried into the next conflict.
The most “successful” arguments are the ones where you can safely share the way you feel and not be on the defense the whole time. Arguments should allow you to air out your grievances, ultimately allowing you to feel closer and better understood by your partner.