Conflict is inevitable in relationship, especially in marriage. You can’t take 2 different people with different personalities, from completely different environments and upbringings, ask them to pay mortgages, manage careers, and raise humankind in an enclosed space called a house without some conflict. That being said conflict is inevitable but combat is optional! So the key is how you do conflict. How do you handle conflict? Do you get mad and get even, or do you stonewall and punish? Either way is unhealthy and tends to guarantee that your issues will not get resolved in a healing way. Here are some Fair Fighting Rules that we have found over the years that help resolve conflicts in a healthy way:
- Know what your are really fighting about. Look at the deeper issues in your life.
- Stay on the topic. Don’t go global and throw in the kitchen sink!
- Take responsibility for what you are feeling. Use “I statements” rather than “you statements.”
- No finger pointing, blaming, shaming, guilting name calling, or threats of breakups. In other words don’t say things that are so critical or inflammatory that the spouse has little course but to defend themselves and retaliate.
- Don’t assume you know what your spouse is thinking and feeling. Because in combat we typically assume the worst. Check out your assumptions by asking your mate what they are thinking or feeling.
Set a mindset of restoration rather than retaliation. If you practice these you can have the inevitable conflict without the combat.