Fair Fighting Rules For Couples
Do not Attack – Attacking someone never helps. People do not respond well to being attacked and it creates a sense of distrust and defensiveness in the person being attacked. Speak honestly about your perceptions and feelings without attacking.
Do Not Blame – Let your spouse know how you felt about their behavior or choices rather than telling them what they did to you. Keep the focus on your feelings and how they affect you.
Remain Calm – Breathe! Do not overreact to painful or difficult situations. If you need to take a time out to cool off, then walk away and reapproach at a later time. You will see your spouse is much more likely to hear you and consider your viewpoint.
Walk Away If Needed – Either person has the right to walk away from the discussion–they must be allowed to do this—not as an avoidance, but to cool off. There should be no following from room to room or yelling through doors.
Do Not Generalize – Stay away from the words “always” or “never” since these words are rarely accurate and give a black and white and gloomy feel to the conversation. Stick to the incident or issue at hand, the present day stuff.
Express Feelings in Words, Not Actions – Share the feelings, don’t become the feelings. Speak clearly and directly, and avoid “showing” the person how you feeling by attacking, punishing or demonstrating.
Be Emotionally Honest and Real – Stick to the facts of your view and your honest emotional reactions. Your partner deserves an accurate reflection of how you see things and how you feel. When you are honest and real, you have a better chance of getting resolution.
Have Empathy and See Their Side – Listen to and consider the other person’s point of view. Don’t interrupt and honestly hear their perspective and feelings. No matter how strong your feelings or your perspective, validate what the other is sharing. Even if you don’t agree, you can be willing to hear and see their side.
Be Specific – Use clear and direct communication. Use the basic formula of “Here is what I see,” and “Here is what I feel,” and “Here is my request”. Use “I” statements such as “When you laughed at me, it hurt my feelings.
Take up One Issue at a Time – It’s often too confusing and complicated to discuss multiple issues in one sitting, so take one particular issue at a time, get some resolution, and then consider discussing other matters.
Stay in The Present – It’s always best to handle problems and issues as they occur. Storing up anger, or hurt feelings leads to resentment and if this is a pattern there can be a cumulative effect that results in perpetual conflict with no resolution.
Be Willing to Give and Accept Apologies – Owning your shortcomings and mistakes and seeing your part in the conflict can be very healing. Be willing to apologize and accept apologies. If you know you were wrong, admit it and apologize so you can move on!
Agree to Disagree – If you’ve talked things out at length, and you find you can get no resolution, then validate each other’s view and feelings and agree to disagree. Loving someone doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything. Fair fighting doesn’t mean someone always has to be right or that someone has to “lose”. Look for opportunities to have a mutually acceptable resolution.
Be Willing To Compromise – Once you’ve talked things through and each person has shared their perspective, take turns proposing solutions that consider both viewpoints. Sometimes through talking it out, a mutually beneficial solution emerges. If not, then reapproach the conversation at a later time when you’ve both had time to think on it.
Seek Couples Counseling – It is important to recognize the need for help. Even with these guidelines for fair fighting it can be difficult to break old habits. If there are patterns of unhealthy communication you and your partner can’t seem to solve on your own, then reach out for help from a qualified counselor or therapist. There may be factors that neither of you are seeing or recognizing, that a counselor can help resolve. In the Baton Rouge area, contact Baton Rouge Counseling at (225) 293-2913. Our Marriage Counseling Baton Rouge professionals can help you resolve difficult issues and get back on track.
Here are some interesting public videos on fair fighting: