Most couples don’t know how to have a satisfying fight when they first got married. Here are some skills to help you be a more effective fighter and to have more satisfaction, truth, and intimacy as a result.
- Assume there will be conflict. Conflict is part of every healthy relationship—any time two or more people have different desires or opinions, there’s conflict. Instead of striving to avoid a conflict or argument, enter a conflict with the intention of being truthful during the conflict and satisfied afterward.
- What are you fighting for? Often we fight without purpose or reason. If you can’t say what you’re fighting for, step out of the ring and figure out what you want to accomplish.
- Clean up after yourself. Sometimes we all hit below the belt by name-calling or making deliberately hurtful comments—comments that could plant the seeds for a future argument. Nobody’s perfect, but a responsible conflict includes cleaning up your messes. If you’ve strayed outside the bounds, apologize.
- Don’t dig up old fights. Don’t talk about how your partner didn’t do the dishes last month or how your co-worker didn’t handle something well in the past. Stay with the conflict at hand.
- Listen. Can you hear what the other person is saying, or are you only waiting for them to finish speaking so you can counterattack? Try repeating back what the other person is saying to you so you keep your conflict productive.
- Go deeper instead of recycling fights. Going over the same old ground is a time-waster. If your partner keeps forgetting to take out the garbage, stop yelling at him about the garbage and start talking about how you feel instead—maybe you feel ignored, disrespected, or hurt. Communicate that better. Going deeper into why things bother you can help you understand each other and can lead to creative solutions to resolve the fight.