Couples fight. It’s natural. A good fight clears the air and the important word here is ‘good’. The opposite of course is a ‘bad’ fight, a free-for-all, a no-holds-barred verbal pounding. You don’t want that, because forgiving is incomplete without forgetting, and some wounds can take a long time to heal. So before you pick up your boxing gloves, be mindful of these simple dos and don’ts of fighting fair.
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If something is playing on your mind, don’t let it simmer. Be a grown-up and discuss it. Your internal dialogue is a bitch because it usually behaves a lot worse than your partner would. Double the trouble when you both know something is wrong, and no one is addressing it. Having a conversation is the first step to resolving a conflict.
Do be relevant
Stick to the topic. It’s easy to lose focus in the heat of the moment, but remember what you are fighting about. Try to resolve that first and leave the rest for another day.
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Don’t get personal
Arguments will pass, but insults tend to stick. So no matter how it’s going, do not disrespect your partner. Address the issue, not the person.
Do remember the love
Remember your partner and you are coming from a place of love, regardless of where you are at that instance. Let’s not forget the person you are fighting with has had your best interests at heart. So try to be less judgemental.
Don’t walk out
Don’t walk out on a fight. Issues get worse when they are left hanging, and it’s also disrespectful to your partner. Storming out is in a way the same as swearing at a person, it’s about losing the ability to vocalise in a mature manner.
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Do cool off
However, it’s alright to mutually agree to take a break. It’ll give you both time to cool off and process opposing views. You can return with a more objective mind set. Short breaks are constructive, long breaks are just breaks, like fractures.
Don’t let the kids hear
You don’t need innocent witnesses, so don’t subject your kids to your fight. It’s a lot harder on them than it’s on you. Raised voices in a different room is the same as having them in there with you.
Do fix it before going to bed
Resolve the issue before you get into bed. It’ll lie there between you and will take a lot of space. Worse, it’ll still be there when you wake up in the morning. That’s not a happy threesome for a couple.
Don’t insist on sorry
Grownups don’t always need apologies to be spelt out to them. Simple actions can be enough too. Don’t insist on one even if you are right.
Do mean it
But if you do apologise, say it like you mean it. If it’s fake, it will show, and you know it.
“I told you so…” is the opposite of “I love you”. Don’t say it.
Do make up
Do something simple together to mark the end of an argument. Take a walk? Watch TV together? Have a drink? Whatever it is, it should give a clear signal that the issue is resolved and you are both ready to move on.
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Summing up with a story
Two monks, short and tall, are standing at the edge of a stream. A young woman near them is looking quite forlorn. She needs to get to the other side, but doesn’t want to wet her new clothes. She looks at the monks and the short one immediately picks her up and carries her across. She expresses her gratitude and leaves. The monks continue on their way, but the tall monk is noticeably bothered. He finally stops and says — “We are not allowed to be near women, let alone touch them, why did you carry her?” The short monk replies — “I’m not anymore, why are you?” And in saying that, he becomes taller.
The story illustrates what happens after a conflict has been resolved – you let it go. You don’t carry it any further. This is how grownups deal with it. Now go forth and fight in peace.