Learn to Fight Fair

How couples fight and when they fight can speak measures about their relationship. Fighting fair is a sign of mutual respect. It shows the value that each person places on the relationship. Resolving conflict nicely is also a skill that you and your partner can discuss and develop together. It’s one that will make fights less damaging and more productive. Who knows? If you follow these fair fighting guidelines, you might even learn to love a good fight!

Check it out
To avoid disappointments and fighting later in a relationship, it’s important to find out where your partner stands on issues that are (or will) be important to you. Before you move in or get deeply involved with someone, know how they feel about fundamentals like marriage, money, sex and children. Talk candidly about where you don’t match up and gauge whether or not there’s room for flexibility. Even couples who have been together for years can practice this as goals and expectations change over time.

Easy does it
Practice safe ways of letting your partner know if something they are doing is upsetting you. Avoid harsh words or accusations like “Something’s wrong with you!” or “You don’t love me.” Instead, try to express how your partner’s actions make you feel: “It makes me feel unloved when you don’t hold my hand, hug or kiss me in public.” Using the pronoun “I” instead of “You” can make what you say seem less like a criticism and more like an incentive to have an open discussion about your relationship.

Stay on topic
It’s often something small that triggers a fight about a larger relationship issue. For instance, a disagreement over who gets to hold the TV remote is really about control issues in the relationship. Stay on topic. If you avoid bickering over little things or past grievances, and do your best to listen to one another without interruption, your argument will come to a swifter resolution.

Be kind
In a heated argument, there’s always the temptation to make a smart or stinging remark. Keep it to yourself. You will regret it almost instantly, and your partner will have a very hard time forgiving and forgetting those words. In a fair fight, careful words that address the topic in terms of your feelings will carry more weight than sarcasm or spite. In any relationship, always practice loving speech.

Cease and desist
In an argument, it’s easy to lose sight of rationality. When you feel yourself starting to become irrational, stop yourself and say: “I’m getting so worked up about this, I’m becoming irrational. Can we take a break to collect our thoughts.” Sometimes just stating the fact can change the course of the argument.

Volume control
Yelling not only works up your blood pressure and all the physiological things that lead to irrationality, but it puts the other person on the defensive. If you notice the volume of your voice beginning to rise, take a deep breath, lower your voice and say what you need to say in a calm, restrained manner. You’ll be surprised at how much more effective your words are when they are delivered this way.

Kiss and make up
Last, but far from least, make up! Part of fighting fair is also forgiving. No one is perfect in a relationship. There are times when we all raise our voices or become confused by frustration and emotion. Having compassion for each other’s suffering will be, in the end, what gets you through the rough times.

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