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Fighting Fair in Marriage: Rules for Couples
No marriage is perfect. We are in year 19 and still learning how best to communicate with each other. One area we struggle with is fighting. I hate confrontation, and in the past would bottle up my feelings until I blew. When we did fight, I fought to inflict pain because I felt it warranted. After a lot of personal and couples counseling, I share the ugly truth of fighting fair in marriage. I hope it helps you in your marriage as it has my own.
My TOP 14 Tips to Fighting Fair in Marriage
1. Know why you are upset and what your feelings are really about.
One area I struggled with was knowing why I was upset and how to articulate my feelings. Sometimes, I only knew I was angry, and little things would bug me. Knowing why you are upset is the key to even starting off a fair fight in the first place.
2. Location and Timing are EVERYTHING!!
When you fight, it’s important you respect one another. Fighting in public for all eyes is disrespectful, and undermines your marriage in the long-run. Make sure when you approach your spouse, you do it in a safe location for both of you. Also, you must give adequate time for communication, because no one ever wants to run out of time when in the midst of heated discussion. Try your best to not fight in front of the kids, and if you do, you better resolve it in a healthy manner in front of your kids. Fighting fair in a marriage is not only for you, its also a way to teach your children conflict management skills.
3. Mutual Consent is Key!
If you go into a fight, and the other person wants nothing to do with it, the fight will end badly. Most likely your time and energy becomes also wasted. Creating mutual consent creates an emotional environment for positive change.
4. Don’t Air Your Dirty Laundry
When my marriage was in dire straights, I struggled with knowing how to share my thoughts and feelings without dragging my husband through the mud. As a social media influencer, part of my job is to share what helps me. Through the hardest time in my marriage, I was careful to not give all the details. I only shared those details with a few select close friends and family who knew what I was going through in my marriage. I did not want to ruin what people thought of my husband on social media, because honestly it’s nobody else’s business what goes on behind your closed doors anyways.
5. Your Spouse is Not a Canned Good – They don’t need LABELS thrown at them
Labeling is so easy to do, and I am at fault for using this as a way to fight nastily in my own marriage. Many labels are thrown out in marriage like narcissist, uncaring, boring, incentive, basket case, to name a few used in our own fights. Labeling is an easy out in my opinion, and is not fair in the least, nor do they solve marriage problems in the long-run.
6. Stay on Topic
When in the heat of a fight, it’s easy to lash out and veer off the current topic at hand. Usually, when we have done this, it is a way to inflict pain, to purposefully excoriate old wounds, and cause the fight to escalate. Fighting fair in marriage does not happen when you try bringing in other topics to make your case. It causes more strife and more anger. The best bet is to keep to a single topic you wish to address.
7. It’s All About Resolving Marrige Problems – Mutual Agreement is the Goal
Building TRUST is Key in a marriage. Without trust, you create an unstable foundation to your marriage. When fighting, you must understand the end goal is to find a safe and healthy way to end the fight in a way where both people feel loved and heard. Never start an argument without having some possible solutions, and a willingness to compromise, knowing you might not get exactly what you want. Also, go into the discussion with an exit strategy if you fail to achieve your goal. This mentally prepares you to make progress in the discussion at a later date when both of you cooled off.
8. Don’t Cuss or Yell
This should be a given, but when in the heat of the moment, words can fly so fast before sane thought processing happens. While I do cuss, I try hard to not do it in a fight, because it actually lessens the impact of what I am trying to say. Telling my husband he is an asshole truly isn’t going to help me bridge a gap, and the same goes when he has called me a bitch. Although those words might prove perfectly applicable, all it only breeds more discontentment, and the desire to win the fight, whether done fairly or not.
9. In Fighting Fair in Marriage, it’s WE not ME when going through an issue
When discussing an issue, it’s easy to make it all about yourself. I remember when shit hit the fan in our marriage, and I was so broken to the point my spouse’s feelings did not matter. It was a me instead of we marriage. I was so angry, it became all about me. I could not see straight for awhile, and the “we” was nonexistent. It’s important for healing to happen for both to take ownership of the issue at hand, and not simply focus on yourself.
10. Respect Crying
This is a big one for me, because I wear my emotions on my sleeves. Many times when I cried, my husband would be irritated, and make remarks about it or walk off in frustration. As spouses, we need to respect when someone is crying. If we don’t, it causes you to resent, to hold anger inside, and to stuff your emotions until, like me, you no longer can hold it in, and you blow up like a volcano.
11. Sarcasm Must Stay at the Door
Sarcasm, most of the time, comes from it’s ugly cousin called “anger”. It also heightens the feelings of insecurity and hostility. In a fight, sarcasm truly has no place. My husband and I spent years doing this to each other, and all it did was fan the fire even more, tearing us apart as a couple. Leave sarcasm out when fighting fair in marriage.
12. Don’t Generalize
Generalizing usually leads to more discontentment and miscommunication of what is exactly going on in a marriage. Using words like “you always” or “you never”, don’t truly tell what’s really going on inside your head and how you feel. Instead use I statements. I feel sad when you walk out on me when I am trying to speak to you. I feel angry when you call me a bitch. Using the I also gives you more power and control in your feelings. It also is more specific, which helps your spouse figure out what you are trying to relay to them.
13. Try to be understanding and gain new insight from the other person’s point of view
This is hard when we are angry I know, but in my experience, when we truly attempt to listen and learn, the most healing happens.
You are Not a Mind Reader and Don’t Expect Them to be Either! It’s true, even though I am my husband’s soulmate and life partner, we cannot read each other’s minds. At times, this superhero ability would be extremely helpful, but in a fight, assuming what one feels, opens up a whole can of smelly sardines. Ask, instead of assume. This is something I still work on daily within our marriage and counseling. Yes, we still go weekly to couple’s therapy even though we are out of the ditch, because one slip up, and I know we could be right back there if we did not keep working towards our mutual goal of a happy, healthy, and fulfilled marriage.
14. Cooling off isn’t just for Hot Days
There will be fights you cannot resolve the issue at hand in one conversation. You or your partner might not have the energy, might not be far enough along in your personal understanding of yourself to know sometimes you must step away for cooling periods. Cooling off does not mean your relationship is over, nor does it mean your marriage is destined for divorce. It means you respect each other enough to give what you are talking about more time, thought, and value.
So, in conclusion, I leave you with this
So what is the ugly truth of fighting fair in marriage? I think you already know by now! It takes two people and tons of hard, dedicated work. Whether you are in an unhappy marriage or in one doing just fine, it’s important to know when it comes to a fight, you must fight fair in marriage to keep the lines of communication going in a healthy manner. Even if you don’t like or use the word fight, the 14 marriage hacks above not only help improve your marriage, but they could even end up saving it. I live this by personal experience!
In what ways of fighting fair in marriage to you use for success? Please let me know in the comments below!