Every couple argues; it’s how you argue that is key
While fighting is a normal part of any healthy relationship, there is a healthy way to fight. Here are eight ways that will help a couple keep their relationship on track during an argument.
Open your discussion in prayer. Opening your discussion in prayer will invoke a higher principle in the mix and help to temper both people in the exchange.
Use the LTL formula. The Listen-Talk-Listen formula ensures that both parties will listen twice as much as they talk. Steven Covey in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, provides a habit that couples can adopt: “Seek first to understand, and then be understood.” If you and your mate practice just that one habit, there will be a whole lot more understanding in the relationship.
Create a safe emotional space for communicating. It’s important to create an emotionally safe space for your mate to be able to communicate. This is the responsibility for both people. Safety means no yelling, no character attacks, no blaming (you did this or you did that….), no invalidating (that’s stupid, silly or crazy), no stonewalling and no judging each other. Remember that your mate is not the problem, the problem is the problem. Make the problem the enemy not your mate, so the two of you can attack the problem as a united front.
Use “I feel” and avoid extremes such as “you always” or “you never.” When you use the words, “I feel” as opposed to “you did this” or “you did that,” it removes the defense mechanisms that people automatically put up when they feel they are being attacked. Also avoid extremes such as “always” or “never.” Extremes are usually an over exaggeration of the truth.
Don’t interrupt. It is important to listen to your mate and not interrupt them or talk across them. If necessary, put time frames on bringing a discussion and put a time frame on rebuttals; go back and forth until an agreement can be reached. Even if you end up not seeing eye to eye, agree on how you will handle the matter in the future.
Use a trigger word. Trigger words or safe words are words such as time out, pause, stop or uncle. The purpose of these words is to invoke them during an argument that is beginning to escalate out of control. The agreed upon word is used consistently when necessary during discussions to allow the two of you to cool down, then come back to the conversation. The timeframe for the pause or time out may be 15 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour. It all depends on what you agree to. However, the two of you must come back to the discussion to resolve the matter.
Address issues as they come up. It is important not to let anger build up. Discuss things while they are small instead of waiting until they blow out of proportion. Resolve your matters promptly so they don’t become bigger than what they would have been if you had addressed them early.
Ask your mate resolution questions. It is both natural and important to discuss the problems in a relationship thoroughly. Yet, once the problem has clearly been outlined from both perspectives, it is critical that both of you move the discussion to a problem-solving format. In other words, just don’t complain about it, now work together to do something about it. An example of a resolution question is, “Honey, how can I help so that you don’t feel that way?”
There are many things that happen in a relationship which trigger an argument between couples. But just because you had a fight isnot cause to be concerned. The time to be concerned is when the fighting and argument goes afoul. So remember to argue in the best manner and in a loving way. Remember that your mate is your ally, not your enemy. If you have been fighting in an unfair manner, make a paradigm shift and evolve your relationship to a more healthy state.
For more about fighting fair, go to BLC Life.