When we follow through on promises, show up emotionally and physically, and own up to our part in the conflict, we have the most success in our relationships. If you do get into a heated discussion or argument with your partner, here are some tips for fighting in a fair and effective manner.
A big part of keeping your relationship healthy is learning to fight in a fair and constructive manner. It is easy in this fast-paced age of technology to neglect our relationships. Here are some points to keep in mind.
RULE 1: Stay with the subject: Avoid changing the subject to make a complaint against your partner. Keep your response focused on your partner’s needs and feelings.
RULE 2: Active Listening: Most disagreements occur because one partner does not fully listen to the other. Intead of telling your partner what they think or feel, listen carefully, and reflect back what they are saying.
RULE 3: Avoid the Past: Don’t bring up incidents or arguments that happened in the past. This will avoid an all-out “free for all” with your partner.
RULE 4: No Name Calling: Focus on the issues at hand and avoid calling your partner “stupid” or “lazy.” Name-calling is abusive and can have long lasting consequences.
RULE 5: Privacy: This is especially important if you have children, but it is also important to try not to argue in front of friends and family. Don’t avoid the issue, but plan a time to speak later.
RULE 6: Don’t go to bed angry: Finish the fight or agree to continue the discussion the next day.
RULE 7: Time Out: Respect each other’s need for a “time out” from an argument. Anger that goes on too long can destroy a relationship.
I hope this helps you and your partner. Happy Valentine’s day!
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.