Many couples have no idea how to fight. Every couple does it, in fact, when a couple says “We never fight.” What they are saying is, “We don’t have an honest relationship.” So, don’t believe the myth that there is a some couple out there that does not fight. The couples that are healthy are the ones who learn how to fight in a constructive way that moves them forward.
Here are 16 ways to fight (taken from The Book of Romance):
- Never speak rashly. Choose your words carefully. Choose how you say things very carefully. Often, how we say something does more damage than what we say.
- Never confront your spouse publicly. I am blown away by how some couples will tear each other down in front of other people. If you are upset with your spouse, no one else needs to know about it or be involved. No one wants to listen to you fight. This will destroy your marriage very quickly.
- Never confront your spouse in your children’s presence. This is tough to do because stuff comes up. It is best to fight away from your kids as it can really tear at their confidence in your marriage and create uncertainty in their minds. If you do fight in front of your kids (and some couples want to in an effort to show their kids how to fight) make sure you make up in front of your kids, let them see and know the resolution and talk with them about it. Don’t just assume they know you made up.
- Never use your kids in the conflict. A fight between a couple is just that, between a couple. Your kids, friends, parents don’t need to take a side, they don’t even need to be a part of it. Turning your kids against your spouse is disastrous for your marriage, family and for your kids.
- Never say “never” or “always.” Even if it feels like always, no one does something all the time. No matter how you make it seem that way in your head. This is very accusatory and will make the other person defensive. Don’t believe me? Try it. They will do everything in their power to think of the one time when they didn’t do it, and then what? Instead, use “When this happens, I feel ___________.” You have just said the same thing without putting them on defense.
- Never resort to name calling. If you can’t fight without calling each other names, don’t fight. That will not accomplish anything. The point of every fight is to have resolution, to finish. To finish, you need to push towards that, name calling pushes against that.
- Never get historical. The past is the past. Especially if it is something you have talked through, one of you has apologized and you have resolution on that issue. Let it go. It no longer is allowed to be brought up.
- Never stomp out of the room or leave. This will tell your spouse, “You should be afraid that I may leave at any minute.” This does not create confidence to fight well. To fight well, both spouses need to know that the other will stay there and finish.
- Never raise your voice in anger. Kids listen better when we are calm, our spouses are the same way. When we raise our voice, we go on offensive. It is like talking to someone in another language, they don’t understand us better just because we are talking louder.
- Never bring family members into the discussion unless they are a direct part of the problem being addressed. This is the same as #4. Your mother is not going to help the discussion with your spouse. It is between you and your spouse and you need to learn how to work it out.
- Never win through reasoning or logic and never out-argue. The goal is a fight is not to win. The point is resolution, a way forward.
- Never be condescending. This is the same as #5. The point is not to talk down to someone or put them on defense. Being right does not endear you to your spouse.
- Never demean. Do not put your spouse down, ever. Couples do this so often in public it blows me away. We need to be building up our spouses.
- Never accuse your spouse with “you” statements. It might be their fault, but that isn’t going to help the situation, you pointing it out. Telling them “You caused this” is not going to all of a sudden make the argument make sense. They already know. Remember the point of a fight, resolution.
- Never allow an argument to begin if both of you are overly tired, if one of you is under the influence of chemicals, or if one of you is physically ill. Don’t fight at night, you can’t think clearly and seek resolution if you are drunk, tired, sick.
- Never touch your spouse in a harmful manner. You are not a man because you can scare a woman or knock her around. Seriously. If your husband is hitting you, call the cops. If you are hitting your wife. Stop. Or, go and fight a man, someone who will hit back. Seriously.