8 ways to fight respectfully with your spouse

Khushi Mehta
couple seeing each other while sitting on couch

It’s not the fight, it’s how you fight that decides how far your relationship will go. The way you argue with your spouse largely determines your relationship and its future. Happy marriages are not all about sex, love and money, they are more about compassion, understanding and lots of respect for each other. Happy couples too have fights, but when fighting, they choose their words carefully directed at the fight, and not at each other’s character or being.

No matter how long you have been married or how long you have known each other, no two people can agree on everything all the time. Even couples who get along very well with each other differ on many aspects when it comes to equations of the nuptial knot.

Personally, I had known my husband for 5 years before we got married, and I would not lie, sometimes it seems like we do not agree over anything! Whether it is the monetary goals, or the weekend dinner, we seem to argue about almost everything. Sometimes, those mundane everyday arguments take the shape of nasty fights, and that’s when we laid some ground rules so as to not hurt each other with piercing words. And it works, we fight, we argue, we debate but we do not cross the line.

Okay, honestly, mostly stay within the line.

How to fight respectfully with your spouse?

While we were drafting the rulebook for our fights, we decided to direct our arguments staying within the line and focus our anger on the problem, not on each other.
For instance, in a furious argument, you may tell your spouse that you are upset at what has happened, but you should not cross the line saying ‘this is how you have been raised’.

So here are 8 ways to argue and fight the right way with your spouse.

1. Practice listening patiently and without interrupting

Listening is an art, a skill that is developed by practice. And when you listen to someone, make sure to comprehend the words too. Just like you listened intently on your first date, make it a point to carefully listen to your spouse without putting words into his or her mouth. Do not interrupt, though you should ask questions when the other one is done talking.

Most people win half of an agreement by listening to the other person, simply because being heard makes the person feel valued and respected. And this feeling translates into being understood. What else does a furious person need?

2. Do not brush issues under the carpet

Every couple has uncomfortable topics that they know will raise arguments. But instead of sweeping them under the rug, they address them, discuss them and avoid bigger dramas.

Your biological clock is ticking, and you want to talk about when to have kids, while your man wishes to focus on some savings now – that enough food for a big battle in itself. But that does not mean you postpone discussing these issues and keep on getting frustrated from the inside.

You need to talk, fight, reason and conclude.

Just because a question is going to get debated over, they do not run away from it, pretending all is well. Happy couples address their problems, conclude with a solution and never run away from their fights.

Watch this video: Things a happy couple does in relationship

3. No name calling ever. Period

This is my husband’s first rule of fighting. No matter how angry or upset he is, I have never seen him say anything nasty to me or anyone else. As much as I appreciate this in him, I feel sorry for myself because I can get to calling names even with a sales guy. Hey! I am trying to improve at that!

I consciously have imbibed this habit, over the years, and have felt it avoid unnecessary hurt and friction. Name-calling simply diverts one from the subject, and it is nasty, disrespectful and somewhat high school-ish. The effect of calling names in a relationship is simply corrosive, damaging and scarring.

So, no name-calling. PERIOD.

4. The past is past. Let it stay there

As a couple who had been dating for 5 long years, we did know a great deal about each other’s past. That also meant we could easily point fingers at each other, in an attempt to distract the other person from the issue in hand. When during an argument my husband said that I have been always confused, given the multiple switches in my career, it hurt. And when I broke down, he apologised, and we made it a rule to never refer to anything that we might have done in the past. It is irrelevant, hurtful and demeaning.

5. Acknowledge each other’s’ feelings

While arguing, give each other the benefit of doubt and acknowledge the anger, frustration, anguish or disappointment. For a productive conversation, you need to drop your gun and open your heart. Whatever feelings your spouse may be having, you should acknowledge them, accept them, think about them and then conclude positively.

Do not be someone who only talks about himself, his feelings and his expectations.

6. Do not assume, ask

The easiest thing to do is assume, conclude and then feel bitter. But is that right? I often used to get irked because my husband would ask me tens of questions on just one thing. Later, I learnt that he gets his clarity from asking questions. When questions are asked respectfully, in the right way, and are answered productively, many misunderstandings can be avoided.

And the secret to having healthy arguments is clearing misunderstandings if any; not fostering them.

7. Remember, it is not about winning

We have always been taught to win, to prove that we are right. But marriage is a different game. In an argument with your spouse, you need to focus on the issue in hand and work on it together, not trying to prove anyone right or wrong. Get rid of the mental scorecard, and make it about resolving issues, not being right or wrong.

8. In the end, remember you are in it as a team

No matter how heated the argument gets, you need to remember that you have the same goal, and are one team. Whether it is your savings, your child’s education or the move to another city, you are in everything together as one. Do not weigh pros and cons individually or place yourself higher than your spouse – that’s a deal breaker.

Come what may, real happiness is when a couple shines through the odds holding hands taking on challenges of life as one.

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