We are all flawed. We are different from each other. We carry with us different attitudes and beliefs. With this in mind, it’s no wonder there will be times when we clash with each other.
Fights will ensue. Feelings will be hurt. Yet, our differences don’t need to pull us apart if we can learn to fight fair.
The most critical step toward fighting fair is to plan your fight for a time when both of you are in the right mindset. Step back from the moment that sparked the fires of anger. That is not the time to try and resolve your differences. Tempers and tensions are too hot. You both need to cool down and wait for a time when you are calmer. Usually, this takes a few days, so be patient with each other. Even if you’re in avoidance mode until things cool down, get back to talking through the issue that got you both riled up as soon as possible.
Once both parties have cooled down, set the stage for calm conversation by choosing a neutral place to discuss your hot button topic. Couples need to keep these conversations out of the bedroom. Steer clear of the office where one of you sits in the big chair behind the big desk, and the other in the uncomfortable side chair. Find a place where neither one of you carries more power into the room. Keep the setting neutral.
Go in to discuss your differences with a mindset poised for empathy and understanding. Keep in mind that you’re here to fight fair, not drive your point home, or make them change their mind. You’re here to listen with an open heart and to be flexible to your mutual differences.
Keep your conversation open and honest. Be authentic. Be real. Be brave enough to share your true feelings, even if it opens you up to vulnerability.
Put on your listening cap before you enter the space for fighting fair. Listen with your heart. Try to hear beyond the spoken words for the intent. If you get the feeling that both parties are interested in resolving this fight, hold tight to that thought, even if the words that are spoken don’t convey that intent in the best way possible.
If anger comes up, realize that it probably comes from a place of pain. If one of you dips in to anger, you can choose to not respond in kind. You can choose to remain calm and just listen. Yes, remaining calm is an option that is open to you.
Grit your teeth and bite your lip to keep from bringing up old hurts. Stick to the issue at hand. Also, shame on you if you fight dirty by pulling out the score card or going for the jugular, that comment that you know will hurt.
Be prepared to agree to disagree and call a truce. This is not a battle where one of you has to win. In fact, if you can’t calmly come to some resolution, neither of you is a winner. You are both losing out on a relationship you once cherished.
If the rules you set for fighting fair don’t keep the peace pipe flowing, set aside your pride and get professional help. Too many relationships have been lost forever over the need to be right, while making the other person wrong.
For more commentary on fighting fair listen to my podcasts, “Fighting Fair in Relationships”, and “Keeping Score”.
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