Keeping an argument in check when you are arguing with your spouse is hard. Emotions are high, adrenaline is pumping and you are ready to throw down. But wait!
If you want to effectively get your point across it is imperative the your partner listens and HEARS what you are saying. I hate when I feel like I’ve sabotaged myself during an argument and end up feeling like a jerk. A jerk with no resolution.
Robert and I have been married almost 17 years and one of the best things we did for our marriage early on was to set some ground rules for fighting. And while it’s not always easy to hold to them, they are so much more than necessary to effectively resolve conflict in your relationship.
Straight to the point, here are ours:
Nope, not ever. And watch your tone of voice. Yelling or having a condescending tone when you’re in the middle of a disagreement is all your spouse will hear, not what you are actually trying to say. And I hope this goes without saying, but name-calling- no way, never, never, never. No exceptions. Respect your spouse.
Rule #2 Don’t bring up past mistakes.
The past is the past. Leave it there. Issues from long ago have no place in a fair fight. It hurts and it does serious damage. Again, Respect your spouse.
Rule #3 Don’t run away.
We all handle this kind of thing differently, I prefer to hash it out right then, Robert needs time to think. What’s important is that it is understood that the issue will be addressed, sooner than later. Running away shows cowardice, disrespect and an apathy for keeping peace in your marriage.
Rule #4 Don’t use the “D” word (divorce), unless you really mean it.
Don’t flippantly go there. Divorce should never be used as a threat. It is a serious thing that, if you are really at that point, you need to sit calmly and talk about. I can’t stress enough how much I believe in this rule.
Rule #5 Take responsibility for your part.
Hard to do, wouldn’t you agree? No one likes being the one to cave in a fight. But keep in mind that sometimes, you may be wrong. *gasp* And when you are, own it. And then apologize.
Rule #6 (last one!) LISTEN more than you talk.
Ouch! This one bites me! I’m great about giving my Mr. a turn to talk, but I am totally guilty of focusing on what my singer of a response will be. When I do that am I really hearing him? And am I paying him the same respect I will expect from him when it’s my turn?
The gist: If I can encourage even one couple, newlywed or not, to create and follow a set of rules for fighting fair, I haven’t wasted my two hours writing all this. I firmly believe in the process.
Love and blessings, all.