Listening and communication are the basic ingredients of every successful relationship. However, it seems that no matter how great of a listener you are, or how deeply you love each other, all it takes is one bad argument to unravel the ties that have bound you together.
When fighting or engaged in an argument, there are some basic ground rules that will keep you fighting fair and help you move past your issues while maintaining your love and respect for each other. Arguments can be a healthy and normal part of a relationship. They are necessary for instilling change and helping a couple to gather their strengths and become a united front.
Yet, if the skills needed to argue respectfully are lacking, either member may experience anger, rage, hostility, or lack of self-control and create damage to the relationship that is never resolved. Here are some basic skills that can ensure your relationship survives the tough times as you learn to fight fair.
1. Be respectful.
First, you should avoid pitfalls such as character assassination or name-calling. When fighting, don’t resort to childish or immature games. Your objective should be to present your point or case in a respectful manner, not to win at all costs. One way to show your partner that you are not attacking him or her is to express your feelings by using "we" or "us" instead of "you" or "your". By phrasing your statements this way, you avoid putting the blame or focus on your partner.
2. Don’t bring up the past.
When you are engaged in an argument and are fighting fair, it is important to remain focused on the task at hand. Don’t confuse matters by brining up past incidents in an effort to win your point. Stay focused on the topic of discussion and bring up your points of view in a respectful manner. This way you are sure to stay clear from negatives such as blaming, accusing, or character assassination.
3. Stay focused on one thing at a time.
It is very tempting in an argument to lose your focus and begin blaming the other person for a number of other transgressions. Stay focused on the topic of discussion and avoid brining up other areas of debate. The object of fighting fair is to bring resolution, not to destroy your relationship.
4. Don’t forget to listen.
Often, during an argument, we are so consumed with trying to make our point that we fail to recognize when we have succeeded. Listen for clues that your partner has heard your point, and possibly have admitted their share in the conflict. Sometimes, we continue to argue that we miss an apology. Stop, give your partner a chance to respond, and listen to what they are saying.
5. Don’t assume you know what your partner is thinking or feeling.
This is a very common mistake that occurs during arguments. It is imperative to remember that people are creatures of change and your partner is no exception. Just because your partner felt one way several months ago, doesn’t mean he or she still feels the same way today. Never assume that you know exactly where your partner is coming from or what he or she is thinking or feeling. Always ask them to explain their point of view and give them the courtesy and respect to express themselves.