How to Fight Fair in Your Marriage
Struggling with how to fight fair in your marriage? You aren’t alone – it’s a learned skill with a lot of pitfalls.
“The world has grown suspicious of anything that looks like a happily married life” – Oscar Wilde
This Wilde quote was penned down in the mid 19th century, but it is still relevant today. It is understood that no two people are exactly the same in their personalities, and it is only natural to have conflicts rising from these very differences. They say no one knows the actuality of love unless they are married for half a century. You may fall in love at first sight, but in order for it to grow, you need to be patient.
It’s erroneous to categorize a marriage as heaven or hell, and believe it to be only a black and white affair. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that applies to all marriages, as each marriage comes with its own equation of unique variables, but years of study and counseling have shown that friendship is the constant.
You may run out of patience, and you may think making one more compromise will give you a brain aneurysm, but if you keep the friendship alive in your marriage, you’ll get through the rough patch fairly unscathed.
Now, how can you fight a fair fight if your emotions are running high and you find it hard to keep your voice down? Here is a list of do’s and don’ts, compiled after counseling and observing various couples and analyzing their behaviors.
Respect is the cornerstone of any marriage. When you use degrading language to address your spouse, it relays the message that you intentionally want to hurt them. It will make your spouse feel unsafe with you, and will generate a feeling of distrust. Furthermore, it will sabotage any chances of resolving of a conflict.
The tone we use reveals how much we value a certain person in our lives. Even if the words are seemingly harmless, the way they are said makes a huge difference of perception. Our tone affects our body language too. Don’t make your spouse feel that you are out there to get them by being rude or harsh and show that you too want a solution to the problem.
Stay in the Present
Yes, the past is full of mistakes and unfulfilled promises, but bringing it in the present is only going to ruin your chances of getting to a solution. Keep it relevant, and resist the temptation of using the present situation as a tool for bringing up issues of past. Mixing present and past is only going to worsen the circumstances.
Keep your Fights to Yourselves
It is highly advisable to discuss the issue among yourselves and not include your parents, children, neighbors and their dog in it. It is only going to further complicate the matters, people will naturally take sides and the situation will get messier. Also, fighting in front of your children is nothing short of child abuse. Yes, seeking counseling from a therapist is suitable, but making a carnival out of a fight is a no-no.
Use of Humor
It might be the hardest thing to do in the world, but keeping the situation light while discussing a heavy topic will keep the heat at bay. A timely joke can lift the mood and we all know laughing is therapeutic. Also, humor helps in healing process.
Every time you bite back your tongue from uttering that awesome, but potentially damaging comeback, remember to reward yourself. You can treat yourself with that much needed hour of sleep, or that night out with your friends that you’d been putting on the back burner for so long. This is a feel good strategy and goes a long way in therapy.
Use of Violence
It is unacceptable to verbally threat or physically demonstrate use of force under any circumstance. Exercise self control and anger management before you reach this point during arguments. Use of force includes punching, pushing, slapping, restraining, throwing, and breaking things. It violates the other person’s sense of security and boundary.
Don’t get personal. Stick your argument only to the topic under discussion and stay focused on the issue. Treat your partner with dignity and don’t let the fight degenerate into a name calling jibe.
Bringing Divorce in a Fight
Talking of abandoning a relationship in the heat of fight undermines your ability to solve a problem. It is manipulative and hurtful, and your partner becomes dubious of your commitment to the relationship. It also puts things in a wrong perspective and matters seem bigger than they really are.
Bottom line: Fight Fair and Don’t Give Up
A marriage is not a result of an involuntary emotion, or a fleeting sentiment. It is a creation of time and will. Your spouse is not your enemy, and you both are in the same boat. According to Judith Viorist, “one advantage of marriage is that when you fall out of love with him, or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall back in love.” It sure is hard to keep working on a marriage when you don’t see anything positive happening, but give it a little more time and things will work out, eventually. That being said, it is never easy to deal with the hurt induced by marital problems. Dr. Gary Rosberg of Gary and Barb Family Coaches says that eighty-five percent of the couples who reported to be ‘unhappy’ or ‘very unhappy’ in their marriages stayed together for five years and reported either ‘happy’ or ‘very happy’.
When spouses begin to adopt an indifferent attitude towards each other, they begin to disconnect and push each other away. The key is to remain open, and not throwing in the towel too soon. All marriages go through bumpy phases, so arguments are as natural as the oxygen we breathe in.
A ‘happy marriage’ is not farfetched if both spouses remember to respect each other and treat each other with kindness, even during an argument. That’s when it counts the most.