Posted on: Saturday, September 24th, 2011
Sometimes ever wonder if your relationship is going to make it? Ever wonder what will help end the fighting? Before you give up, consider these ideas about fighting.
- Couples who stay together and couples who separate fight as often as each other
- We fight because we are different and we care about those differences
- Its not that you fight, its how you fight that matters: making it easier for your partner to hear your concerns and responding in such a way as to move towards resolution
|How NOT to fight||Fair or Constructive fighting|
|Criticism – this is where you attack your partner, use words like ‘never’ and ‘always’ and includes accusations, starts with ‘you…’ and focuses on your partner’s character beyond the specific issue or incident||Complain– focus on your experience: ‘I feel ______ when you ________’ Remember your partner is not out to hurt you intentionally.Requests – ask for what you need knowing your partner will do what they can to help and may not be able to meet all your needs.|
|Defensiveness – this is when you feel attacked and focus more on defending yourself than on dealing with the issue at hand. Can lead to counter attacks.||Take some responsibility– find something in what your partner says that you can agree with and own it.Deal with the issues – there is always an issue – address it, apologize, humor, make it up to your partner, forgiveness|
|Stonewalling – you have shut down and are not emotionally available to work things out. Your partner does not know when the walls are coming down or what it will take to bring them down. They give up.||Take a break– ask your partner for some time to cool off when you are overwhelmedSelf soothe– calm yourself down and don’t focus on building up your argumentRe-engage – whoever took he break needs to bring up the topic again|
|Contempt – the worst of the horsemen. You are taking your partner for granted and being mean about it: name-calling, put downs, intense and persistent sarcasm, violence, abuse. You are now treating each other as enemies or frenemies.||Develop a culture of pride and praise for what you have and for what is working -this is the most powerful antidote and creates a positive environment for fighting when it happens. This does not mean ignore the problems, it means to be intentional on focusing on what is working and saying something by way of compliments, appreciation, celebration in relative proportion – usually the bigger percentage of your relationship|
Adapted from Dr. John Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse of Marriage and Antidotes. Consider marriage counselling or couples counselling to build on these skills and learn how to fight fair.