Fair Fighting Rules for Couples
Trust me, if you abide by them, the storm will pass by peacefully and also leave behind a workable solution of the issue at hand.
Deal with the Problem and Finish it
Any argument that is left unfinished will keep on lingering and will disrupt your routine quality of life. Ideally, an argument should not have a life span of more than 24 hours, and yes, I strongly believe in the age-old belief that you should not carry grudges on to the next day. Finish and bury them before going to bed. (Say sorry, in case you are required to end the argument!)
Stick to the Point
Always keep in mind the point due to which the argument started. In the heat of the moment, never wander away from the main point. No old grudges or sore issues from the past should be dragged in the conversation if it doesn’t belong to that particular discussion. Mark boundaries around a subject, and stick to it.
Avoid Foul Language
Foul language includes every verbal gesture that degrades the value of the other person. Name calling, insulting, blaming, criticizing, cursing, or even shouting for that matter can be included in foul language. Ensure that you maintain your partner’s dignity, and clearly steer away from any sort of character assassination.
Control Your Pitch
Every issue that you state need not have a “high importance” tag attached to it. You don’t have to yell every time you want to put forth a point. Yelling is usually subjective. What sounds as yelling to your partner may sound normal to you. You may think that your pitch is still bearable while your partner may think otherwise.
If It Becomes Overwhelming, Take a Break
When the fight reaches a boiling point and your heartbeats start racing, it’s time for you to take a break and withdraw yourself. But this withdrawal should not be a trick to leave the argument midway. You should always inform your partner that after you cool down, you will return and finish the argument. During the break, do anything that you find to be a stress buster. Playing with your pet, reading your favorite book, listening to calming music, or doing just anything to get your perspective back can work wonders. A break of 20 to 30 minutes is enough to regain composure.
Let Your Partner Speak
The argument should be mutual, and the conversation should be a dialog — not a monologue. It should be kept in mind that your partner also gets an equal chance to voice an opinion. So, whenever you are speaking (not yelling!) and your partner interrupts, you should hold your talk and listen (not just hear). Another sub-rule that applies here is “listening with concentration.” It means that when the other person is talking, you should avoid distractions, like texting, watching TV, or planning a counterattack. Make as much eye contact as far as possible. If this dictum gets overruled by any party, then there are chances that the conversation may lose its focus. (Remember rule 2?)
Ditch the Silence
Speak up! Don’t give your partner the silent treatment. It’s like playing a game with your partner, and it would only make things more complicated. Suddenly becoming silent in the middle of an argument would send a signal that you are not interested in the argument and are trying to end it. It will give rise to a fresh topic for your partner to argue upon, because now the feelings of resentment would have increased in intensity.
No Blame Game
Using statements that start with “I” rather than “you” will keep the other person from becoming defensive. If your point of argument is that your partner is not helping you enough in the routine household chores, then rather than saying “You never help me with the chores”, it would sound better if you say “I would like it if you would wash the dishes at least 3 times in a week.” Now, see the difference! It is highly recommended that you use statements like “I think” and “I feel” instead of starting the sentence with “you.”
No Comparisons Please!
The worst generalization that you can give your partner is “you are just like your mother.” No other statement can ever beat this comparison. Involving opinions of other people can also be considered as comparison. For example: “Mac’s sister agrees with me”, or “Jane also thinks that you are careless with money.” The only opinions that should matter and be considered relevant are those of the two, who are arguing. Speak your mind rather than agreeing with and repeating what others have said.
Practice Apology, Peace, and Love
These three words are golden when it comes to maintaining a relationship. Saying sorry if required will not only boost your ego but also will make you feel proud that you showed the maturity to back off. It shows that you value the relationship more than your victory in the argument. I’m sure your partner will accept your apology and appreciate the gesture. In turn, he/she would give his/her own peace offering, thus bringing down the heat of the argument. If you both have still not arrived at a workable compromise, don’t worry. At least, you both have regained perspective. Now you can talk (this time only talk — that too peacefully; don’t jump into a second round of argument) all over again.
No Public Display of Aggression
Please do not post updates on social networking sites! (they are not your diary). It is highly (and strictly) recommended that you should curb the urge of updating your social network with what’s going on in your personal life. There may be some people in your friends’ list who may interpret your comment (or the sappy song you posted) in an inappropriate way and spread the grapevine that “you two are breaking up.” This can be damaging and may spoil your social reputation. You never know the consequences.
Last but not the least, no fighting if either of you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
To sum up, I would say that set some ground rules before starting an exchange. You might apply all the rules given above, delete a few, edit a few, and add a few according to your requirements. Just concentrate on conflict resolution because when that happens, both of you win.