LifeMarriageFighting Fair - Love in Ambition

Arguments are a natural part of relationships and have hidden benefits. Conflict is a chance to voice unspoken concerns. When done right, a disagreement with your loved one becomes an opportunity to grow closer. Fighting fair allows you to use this opportunity. 

The number one rule of fighting fair—keep your stress out of it.

When we are tired, frustrated, or emotionally suffering, the smallest infraction can spark a full-blown yelling match. I had a recent reminder of this in my marriage. My husband and I have been stressed lately and fell into an argument cycle. As much as we both wanted the arguing to end, we couldn’t break out of it. One small disagreement started an exhausting day of bickering.

How do you end the stress-fueled argument cycle? Return to the basics. Step 1 is always self-care. Clear your mind, rest your body and manage your thoughts. Stress makes it easy to lose control. Our minds are overwhelmed with fear, limiting our ability to handle simple disagreements. Follow your self-care routine and take a step back from the argument. Once you are in control of your thoughts and feelings, you can calmly resolve anything!

After space from the arguing and some much-needed self-care, it’s time to resolve the disagreement. Step 2 in ending the argument cycle is fighting fair. Fighting fair means you and your partner follow simple guidelines to communicate effectively. Have a set of rules in place for when a disagreement comes up. You and your partner should create these rules together during a time when you are not arguing. Keep the rules handy so that when an argument comes up, you both know what to do. 

Here are tips for fighting fair:

  1. Words Matter. Avoid all-or-nothing language and placing blame. All-or-nothing language uses words like “always” and “never.” Blame statements sound like, “you are the one that lied,” or “you don’t clean up around the house.” It’s easy to add all-or-nothing language to blame statements. For example, phrases like “you are the one that always lies” or “you never clean up around the house” are likely not accurate and prompt defensive responses. Instead of blame statements and all-or-nothing language, use “I” statements that express a feeling and request. “You are the one that always lies,” becomes, “I feel unheard when you occasionally have a change in plans. Can you text me when your plans change?” Approaching conflict by expressing your feelings gets your point across while encouraging cooperation and compromise.
  2. Mind your body language. We say a lot with our bodies. Refusing eye contact, crossing arms, and scowling, give the impression that we are angry. If you confront your partner with anger, they are likely to respond in anger. Approaching a conversation with a relaxed facial expression and body posture sets a different tone. When you are mindful of what your body is saying, you avoid unintentionally giving your partner combative signs.
  3. There’s a time and place for everything. It’s probably a bad idea to dive into an argument in public, in front of the kids, or when tensions are high. Avoid the embarrassment of a public debate by designating a time and place to resolve things. Not only does this avoid creating an inappropriate, awkward situation, but it gives you and your partner time to calm down.
  4. Stay on topic. Focus on resolving the issue that started the argument. It’s easy to get side-tracked with bringing up the past. Talk about the here and now because you can’t fix everything at once.

Arguing does not have to be a painful experience. Following simple guidelines can help you work through disagreements without suffering!

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