Too often, we tend to treat those whom we are in a relationship with less respect than we do mere acquaintances. This is why disagreements between couples can turn very damaging with all the name-calling, finger pointing, and screaming. These emotional fights, if not managed well, might as well be the final straw that broke the camel’s back. That is why it is important for couples to learn the art of fighting fair, if they are so keen on finding solutions to problems, instead of giving birth to more.
1. Identify the problem and avoid digging up past issues. During an argument, it is easy to fall into the trap of recalling every single wrong your partner has committed in the past, perhaps in an attempt to deflect attention from one’s own shortcomings. This type of behavior is counter-productive and makes problem-solving almost impossible because it only allows for problems to pile up, with no resolution in sight. You and your partner must ask yourselves what the problem really is and just concentrate on getting to the root cause of it, instead of digressing and finger pointing.
2. Hate the game, not the player. While going into a vitriolic verbal attack might seem to be the automatic course of action when at the height of frustration, the wisest move would still be for you to take a step back and choose your words carefully. By attacking your partner and not the issue at hand, you are putting him on the defensive – which could only spark an argument that is much bigger than what was initially on the table. Disagreements can and will always occur, especially in close-knit relationships, but you must always remember to go into it with the desire for amicable and fair resolution rather than exacting revenge or gaining control.
3. Be a good listener. You do not have the monopoly over problems and disagreements. In the same way that you want your partner to listen to you attentively, so does he. More often, our mind is already bursting with thoughts and rebuttal even before our partner has started talking. There is no way that a disagreement can be handled properly with this kind of behavior. To avoid monopolizing the discussion, experts suggest you try flipping a coin on who gets to talk first and each of you gets 3 minutes to air your side, and son on, until a compromise is reached.
4. State your needs and offer suggestions. Don’t just complain incessantly about the issues you have with your partner and leave it at that. Understand that your partner has needs and wants, too, and by focusing a little less about yourself and a little bit more on him, you may discover that most of your issues can be resolved by being unselfish about attention and love.
5. Sleep on it. We have been told many times to avoid, if possible, to go to bed angry with your partner. However, in some cases, it is also better to hold any emotional confrontation or discussion until there’s a better time to do so – not when tempers are flying all over the place or you are both too tired or too hungry to be reasonable and objective.
Running through all these tips is a common thread called mutual respect. At this stage in your relationship, both of you should already have invested enough love and respect in each other so as not to let disagreements fester and cause permanent damage.