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I think learning to fight fair has been one of the hardest things for me and my boyfriend. We both grew up in very argumentative environments, so we were so accustomed to the way we were doing things.
But being in love is a daily choice. And the longer I’ve been with my boyfriend, the truer those words become. You have to constantly adapt and grow as a person as your love evolves and goes through the seasons.
With that said, here are 5 simple, yet important rules for fighting fair in your relationship:
5 Rules for Fighting Fair in Your Relationship
1. HAVE COOLING OFF PERIODS
In the heat of an argument, we often yell and interrupt each other. We aren’t thinking clearly, and we often say things we regret. It’s best to try to avoid that at all costs. I can not stress this enough.
It’s important to know that cooling off periods offer each person time and space to organize their thoughts. This almost always speeds up the resolution process, because both of you will be more likely to respond and less likely to react. You’ll be calmer, and you can focus on reconciliation.
Remember, reacting and responding are two very different things. Reacting usually comes from a defensive place and can usually cause the fight to escalate. Responding, on the other hand, is active listening and effective communication. Your partner is much more likely to see your viewpoint when you are responding instead of reacting.
When you start to feel your tempers rising, say “I’m sorry, but I need a few minutes alone to calm myself down. I feel myself getting too heated, and I want to be more level-headed when we talk.” Try not to just get up and leave without informing your partner what you’re doing.
2. DON’T FIGHT IN PUBLIC
Fighting in public almost always escalate the fight. Not only do you start to feel self-conscious about how everyone is perceiving you, the fight becomes more about the fight itself and less about solving the problem.
Plus, fighting in public usually brings the argument home with you. For me and my boyfriend, fighting in public just causes us to fight more in private. And if you’re spending quality time with your partner, it creates a scenario of, “Well, now my night’s ruined.”
Instead, try to hold onto your issues until you get back home. Usually some of the initial anger will be passed by then. Try to find a neutral space, like a kitchen, to have your discussions. Avoid spaces that you associate with love, like your bedroom or living room.
3. GET RID OF “ALWAYS” AND “NEVER”
Raise your hand if you’re guilty of saying “always” and “never” in an argument? Yeah, we’re all guilty of this to some degree.
I get it. These words are often spoken to get a point across, usually when it wasn’t the first time the point was trying to be made. They’re usually spoken out of disappointment, annoyance, frustration, and anger.
However, “you always” and “you never” statements will get you nowhere. They will lead your partner to defend themselves, which will prevent them from trying to understand you. Sometimes, your partner will even shut down, and you won’t be able to communicate at all.
Not only that, these statements are usually the culprit of escalating the argument. Try eliminating them from your vocabulary and see how much more effective your communication gets.
4. GET RID OF “YOU” STATEMENTS
“You’re so disrespectful.” “You’re the one who is acting like this!” You this, you that, you, you, you.
Just like “always” and “never”, “you” statements are negatively affecting your communication. Once again, these statements put your partner on the defensive, and you move farther and farther away from reconciliation.
Instead of using this incredibly poor communication tool, focus on “I” statements. Focus more on your feelings to explain your hurt and frustrations and less on your partner’s actions.
An example would be: “It feels like you aren’t listening to me, because your body language suggests otherwise.” You can also use this format to get you started: “I feel ___ when you do ___, because ___.”
It takes effort to be able to communicate like this. But when you use “I” statements instead of “you” statements, your partner is much more likely to listen to what you have to say. They’re much less likely to be on the defensive and react. They’re much more likely to respond, which speeds up the resolution.
5. DON’T FORGET YOU’RE ON THE SAME TEAM
Try your best to remind each other that you’re in this together. You’re on the same team.
A great way to do this is to use “we” statements. “We need to work on our communication.” “We need to work at our money problems.”
Another great way to fighting fair is in the middle of an argument, reach over and grab your partner’s hand. Place a gentle hand on their back. Look them in the eyes. Slip in “I love you” as much as possible.
It’s a lot harder to have an argument when you’re coming from a place of love and compassion. Physical touch promotes connection and reconciliation.
Pride might stop you from doing this during your next argument, but try it out! You might be surprised how well this works!
What rules do you follow in order to fight fair in your relationship? Tell us in the comments below!
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1. BEATING 50 PERCENT
Navigator’s Council: A Marriage Journal is both a weekly journal and a weekly rhythm for your marriage. The foundation of the journal is six questions that you’ll ask each other once a week and record your answers. Each week also includes a short devotional and a week-long calendar to help foster good conversation and make sure you and your partner are on the same page.
2. THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES
We all have a love tank, and everybody loves and feels love differently. Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, and Acts of Service make up the five love languages. The 5 Love Languages has been a game-changer for me and my boyfriend. Very eye-opening.
3. MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus is a classic. For years, the theory behind it has helped save countless relationships. I know it’s definitely opened my eyes to how men, like my boyfriend, communicate. It’s helped us understand each other more, and I’m so grateful.