As I have come to realize over the years marriage is not easy at all and one of the things that I struggle with is how to fight fair in marriage. I’ve got to face the truth and that is that I am a very emotional creature. When my husband and I have an argument I take things very personally and I get hurt easily.
Learning how to fight properly and fairly with my husband has been quite the learning curve. When I get upset my immediate reaction is wanting to retaliate and fight back. I’m also not too fond of admitting it when I am wrong even when I know I am.
Being married is about working together and working through disagreements. If one or both partners starts retaliating and fighting unfairly it can cause a lot of damage to a marriage that will take some time to work through and heal from. In order to have a healthy marriage you and your spouse will need to learn how to fight fair.
Here are 10 things that you can implement to fight fair in marriage:
Set The Time and Place For A Fair Fight
This may sound strange but it is important to ensure that you fight at the right time and the right place when you are both ready and prepared for a fight. You don’t have to argue then and there if something upsets you.
Make sure that neither partner has been drinking and that you are both well rested without any distractions. Having a go at your spouse when he walks in the door straight from a hard day at work is not a level playing field.
Your fight should be planned for a time when both of you are well rested and calm. There should be no distractions to take your attention away from resolving your issues.
Another important aspect of planning your fight is choosing where to do it. Don’t fight in one partner’s territory. like your office for example. Don’t fight anyone’s bedroom or a place where there is sexually charged environment. Rather use neutral territory like the kitchen or the sitting room.
Always Treat Each Other With Respect
When you argue with someone emotions run high, especially with someone you are so close to. When emotions run high there is a risk of overstepping boundaries that should not be crossed.
Make sure never to cross the boundary of violence, shouting and other forms of disrespect. Once you have crossed those boundaries it is not so easy to step back because crossing these boundaries causes damage that is not easily repaired.
No Hitting Below The Belt
A marriage is the most intimate of relationships, where partners share the most vulnerable parts of themselves. It is absolutely essential to protect your spouse’s trust and vulnerability at all times.
Never use anything that your partner has shared with you as a weapon to hurt your partner during an argument. Trust that is broken in this way is not easily repaired and can cause lasting damage to your marriage.
Don’t betray your partners trust when they are the most vulnerable.
Respect Each Others Feelings Without Judgement
It is important to respect each others feelings at all times and to remember not to judge feelings. It is not possible to control your feelings and feelings are neither good nor bad, they just exist. Try to understand what brought on that feeling. Whether it be anger, resentment, betrayal or bitterness there is a reason that you or your partner is feeling that so try to talk it out and get to the bottom of it.
Crying is a very normal part of showing emotion and dealing with feelings. Respect each other’s ways of expressing emotions without judgement.
Stick To The Topic
It is important to stick to the topic at hand while fighting and not bring part issues into the argument. Holding a grudge is not going to help anyone so let go of any past issues that you are holding onto and don’t dredge up the past.
If there are more issues that surface during an argument rather take note of them and set a new time and place to hash those things out. There is nothing wrong with scheduling a new fight.
Honesty is absolutely essential to your marriage and you cannot have true intimacy if you are not completely honest with your spouse.
If there is something you have done wrong make sure that your spouse hears it from you and not finds out from someone else or on their own.
Be honest with your feelings when you have an argument, this will help you both to work through the problem.
Pay attention to what your spouse is saying and genuinely try to understand what he is saying to you. It is so easy to listen in a way that only prepares you for your counter argument. Forget about what you want to say or say back and just focus on what your husband is saying.
Try breaking up your discussion into thirds, so set an amount of time that you will fight for. If it is one hour then give your partner 20 minutes for him to have his say where you are not allowed to say anything back. Then you get the next 20 minutes to have your say where your husband must only listen and not respond. For the last 20 minutes you can have a two way discussion trying to resolve the issue.
Remember It’s Not All or Nothing
It is so easy to get stuck into the all or nothing mentality. Nobody is perfect, we all have our faults and sometimes it is about accepting another person’s faults without trying to change them.
There is nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree on some points. You are not going to agree on everything and there is nothing wrong with that, you are two different people.
There are going to be so many things that come up between you during your marriage, you will need to decide to choose your fights rather than nitpick at everything that annoys you in the slightest. Sometimes acceptance is a better option.
Use “I Feel” Statements
Get into the habit of starting your statements with “I feel”. This can be a huge game changer in a fight. Just look at these two examples:
“I feel lonely and I get worried when you come home late” compared to “You are always coming home late”.
Telling your spouse how you feel is so much more constructive than an accusation that will make your spouse want to defend himself.
Keep Your Fights Private
It is vital to protect your marriage and keep it private, especially when it comes to your disagreements. Marriage is between two people, there should be nobody else involved.
The only exception here is if you choose to consult a marriage counselor to help you work through your problems. If you are struggling to work through your marital problems on your own then seeing a marriage counselor may be very beneficial. A marriage counselor can help you to work through your problems and at the same time teach you how to fight properly.
If you can stick to all of these tips you are sure to grow closer together as a couple and learn to trust and value each other more than you already do. Fighting fair means that you will be resolving issues in a healthy way as they come up, but you will also be growing together as a couple.
Mutual respect will grow and you will learn to trust each other more and get even more honest and vulnerable with each other. This will mean that through working through problems you will reach a new and deeper level of intimacy.
Always keep in mind that your love may have started off as an exciting feeling that made you feel giddy but after 10 or 20 years of marriage with some kids thrown into the picture love is an action, it is something you do every day and it takes hard work and dedication.
Having a long and happy marriage is not destiny, it is a choice that you make each and every day in all the little things that you do.
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Also published on Medium.