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How To Fight Fair in Your Marriage -- Conflict Management in Marriage

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Couple at table with mugs, looking down
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All married couples have arguments, or rather fights. How you fight is the key to whether or not you will have a successful, long term marriage. Fighting fairly with respect for one another is a critical marital skill that you must learn.

The way you fight can often tell psychologists more than what you fight about. If done correctly, conflict and healthy, fair fighting, can strengthen your marriage.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: No More than 15 minutes -- at that point call a truce and set a time to discuss the issue again.

Here's How:

  1. Don't let little things that bother you build up until one of you explodes the issue into a large fight. That's not fighting fair in your marriage.
  2. If you are angry about something and don't try to talk about it with your spouse within 48 hours, let it go. Otherwise, you are not fighting fair.
  3. If your spouse doesn't want to discuss the matter, set an appointment within the next 24 hours to have your fair fight. It is okay to go to bed angry. You need your sleep. Just make sure that the issue is addressed the next day.
    Diane Lore: "Go to bed angry. Several therapists and couples say forget that adage about always resolving anger before turning in -- and let someone sleep on the couch. 'We've found that going to bed angry is often the best choice,' says Lisa Earle McLeod, author and a 23-year marriage veteran. 'It allows partners to clear their thoughts, get some sleep, and make a date to resume the fight (which might seem less important in the light of day).'"
    Source: Diane Lore. "Fight Fairly and Keep the Peace in Your Relationship." WebMD.com.
  4. Fighting fair means you know what the issue is. Then, both of you stick to the subject.
  5. Keep your fight between the two of you. Don't bring in third parties like your mother-in-law, his best friend, or your children.
  6. Fighting fair means you don't hit below the belt. Respect your spouse.
  7. Fighting fair means you don't bring up past history.
  8. Fighting fair means no name calling. Even endearing terms and pet names can be hurtful when you are using a sarcastic tone.
  9. Be careful how you use humor. Laughter is good, but teasing can be misinterpreted and can be hurtful.
  10. Listen to one another fully while you fight. This includes watching body language. Look at one another while you speak.
  11. Don't interrupt during your fight.
  12. Fighting fair means you don't blame one another make accusations.
  13. Try to use 'I' sentences instead of 'you' sentences.
  14. If the two of you are not extremely angry, try to hold hands while talking during your fight.
  15. Be open to asking for forgiveness and being willing to forgive.

Tips:

  1. Even though it may be hard to forgive your spouse, not forgiving can cause more harm both emotionally and physically to yourself and to your marriage. Holding a grudge is letting someone else live in your head rent free.
  2. Remember to not fight to win, but to fight for your relationship. Be willing to compromise.
  3. Conflict is not the problem. All married couples have disagreements. It's not knowing how to effectively argue that creates difficulty in a marriage.
  4. Don't use the words "never" and "always" in your statements to one another.
  5. Do not yell. Do not scream. Do not talk in a threatening tone.

What You Need

  • Conflict management skills
  • A sense of fairness
  • Putting your marriage first
  • Willingness to forgive
  • Ability to listen
  • Respect for one another
  • Awareness of when to apologize

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