Learn to fight? Why would anyone want to learn to fight? Because ‘fighting’ or conflicts are a part of many relationships and the more skills we have to maneuver through these, the better our relationships will be. The definition of the word fight is a battle, and oftentimes in life we are battling for what we want and need. The problem, however, is that many of us have not learned how to fight FAIRLY. Think back about some of the ‘fights’ you have witnessed or been a part of in your life. Was there yelling? Were the individuals talking over each other? Did it get physical? Or, maybe you are a problem solver by nature and you are aware of how to manage and resolve conflicts effectively. Even so, we could all use a few refreshers. So, let’s learn how to fight fairly.
Rules to Fight Fairly…
1. One person talks at a time. While one is talking the other person is listening. (Listening doesn’t mean being quiet and planning your response. Instead, listening means truly hearing what the other person is saying.)
2. No name calling. While this may sound elementary, too many people do it.
3. Speak more about your emotions instead of your partner’s behavior. Use this sentence for a good way to express your feelings without putting the other person on the defense…”When you (fill in other person’s behavior)__________, I feel (say your emotion)_________. Additionally, emotions are not, “I think you are a__________!) Instead, emotions are: sad, angry, afraid, surprised, disappointed, etc.
4. Limit the time you speak to no more than 2 minutes at a time. Women use 1000 words more per day than men. If we want men to hear us, we need to stick to the point. If there are a number of issues that need to be addressed, only address one at a time. When that issue is resolved and you both feel better about it, then you can move on to the next one. (You may want to take a break in between-go out and celebrate how successfully you resolved a conflict!)
5. Do not ‘hit below the belt.’ In other words, if your partner has shared something at a vulnerable time with you; maybe something he or she is embarrassed about, do not bring it up during a fight!
If you follow these rules, your relationships will benefit greatly! Remind yourself why you are in the relationship with this person; remind yourself of their strengths. Ask yourself what was triggered for you that caused you to feel hurt or upset? Fights, when done fairly, can be wonderful learning opportunities. Many times when couples fight, it is often because their expectations are either too high or have not been made clear. Healthy relationships are when two people complement each other, not complete each other. Good Luck!