Fighting Fair

Fighting is tough. The name calling, the false accusations, the hurt egos… and often no positive results. That's because couples usually are't fighting with purpose -- they're fighting to win. Instead of trying to resolve the issue, it becomes a battle. Remember these rules in your next spat to ensure you're fighting fairly and with purpose.

Couple arguing on couch

Keep your eye on the prize

When you initiate an argument, think ahead of time about what your goal is and stay focused on it. Otherwise, you could end up running in circles.

Tango for two

Your business is nobody else's business. Not your neighbors', not the diners at the table next to yours and certainly not your kids'. A fight should occur privately. If it can't wait until you can find a quiet place, pass notes.

Dig deep

Go beyond surface problems. If your partner always leaves his dirty socks next to the bed instead of in the laundry basket, think about why that really bothers you and address the deeper meaning instead of just ranting about the socks.

Maintain control

Use a calm voice and a clear mind. It is not ok to be childish or abusive (physically or emotionally) when fighting. Voice your feelings in a constructive way – that way your partner will want to hear you. Pause and think before speaking if you need to.

Ready, aim, DON'T fire

Avoid all personal attacks. Instead, use 'I' statements. In doing so, you have complete ownership of your feelings, and your partner won't jump into defense mode as easily. Name-calling, cursing and any other bad behavior is also a no-no.

Stay in the present

Issues of yesteryear should stay there. Further, it is key to place boundaries around the topic at hand so that you don't run the risk of going off on tangents and creating an unmanageable laundry list of arguments.

Lose the threats

Firing off threats or ultimatums devalues a relationship. When you are committed to someone, you are willing to work through the struggles you face. Stating otherwise makes the recipient question your commitment.

All feelings are the right feelings

Devaluing someone's feelings is one of the cruelest things you can do in a fight, especially if it is difficult for that person to open up. Although you may not believe or agree with the stated emotion, don't rob your partner of it. Likewise, don't tell your mate how he should feel. Let feelings arise naturally.

Learn to compromise

There is nearly always a middle ground to be reached in a situation -- or at least a place where no one feels like they are completely losing out. Find it.

Set a time limit

Determine how long you are willing to discuss something before you need a break. Eventually arguments become stale and unproductive. A 10-minute break can restore and refocus thoughts and emotions.

Conclude a fight kindly

Establish an end-of-fight ritual that, no matter what, you and your partner employ. A hug, a kiss, saying 'I love you' or 'I'm sorry,' or even laughing will ensure all ends well.

More relationship tips on SheKnows:

Why men avoid relationship confrontation
Talking to men: The one thing women should know
7 Habits that ruin a relationship

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