How to fight fair
Fighting fair - it's not a subject matter taught much in school, but it's definitely a communication lesson that any good relationship will teach you along the way. Occasionally we have clients come in and say, "we're doing much better, we're not fighting anymore." This can be a great sign, and sometimes a not so great sign.
It's a great sign when couples are experiencing a new and safe bond between each other, and there is less tension between them. It's also a great sign, when couples are still having difficult conversations and disagreements, but able to maintain the safe connection between them. It's a not so good sign, when a couple has just found a new way to avoid each other and hard topics. The tension has diminished for the time being, but still avoid hard topics, or pretend they are "fine" when they are not.
Any healthy relationship goes through ups and downs and experiences times of fighting the hurt both partners. And it's normal to make mistakes and lose your cool occasionally. But if it seems like fighting has become chronic, and you have difficulty fighting fair, you should seek help. Not every relationship needs long term professional support. Sometimes, couples just need to get pointed back in the right direction.
If you're not sure whether or not you need professional help yet, try sitting down with your partner and listing out some ground rules. Share your feelings constructively, and put down your ground rules on paper. If you find that you're both able to do this, great! If you find that the tension has grown into a mountain sized divide, then get help. Even if you start therapy by yourself, it can often add huge benefits to the relationship.
Fighting fair is about valuing both yourself and your partner in the argument. Know your value and be willing to stick up for yourself respectfully. But keep in mind, you may need to hear your partner's perspective. Even if it's difficult, you may learn something about yourself. If you only focus on how pointed the criticism is, you may lose some very helpful information about the things you need to work on. Listen to the feedback, acknowledge your partner's frustration with validation and empathy, own your shortcomings, and share your own experience constructively. And if you need to tell your partner that their criticism was too much, do so. Tell your partner you want to understand, you want to listen, but also tell them you have a hard time doing so when it's pointed.
If you'd like more help with your relationship, contact us today!