I am fully aware that I hit the relationship lottery with my significant other. Even after 14 years, I’m still blown away that she’s my wife. But the going hasn’t always been easy. There were many challenges that we faced along the way–but the key is we faced them together. We approached each new challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow together as a couple.
Relationships are Messy
Relationships are messy. It’s what you sign-up for when you say “I do.” There are going to be plenty of disagreements. That’s to be expected when you have two individuals pushing for their satisfaction. However, in order to fight effectively, and truly get something positive out of this seemingly negative interaction, it’s important to keep the following Rules of Engagement in mind.
Rules of Engagement:
1) Express Your Feelings: It’s ok to let your significant other know what you’re feeling. If you are feeling angry because they keep leaving their stuff all over the floor, tell them. If you are feeling hurt because you were looking forward to spending quality time with them but they worked late instead, let them know.
The more open you are about what you are feeling and why you are feeling it, the more connected you’ll become to your partner as you create a relationship that is based on truth-telling and honest expression.
2) Listen: Alright so you’ve had your time to vent. You said what you needed to say. Now it’s time to hear the other side, so stop talking and listen. Don’t interrupt. Don’t think about what you are going to say next. Don’t try to remember old drama that you plan on flinging at your partner like verbal daggers. Just stop and listen. It helps when you maintain eye contact while doing so to show that person you’re engaged.
3) Show Mutual Respect: As we said before, it’s perfectly ok to express your feelings to your
spouse, however, it’s certainly not ok to name call or degrade that person. A person may perform a thoughtless action, but that doesn’t mean they’re stupid. They may not have taken your feelings into consideration at a particular time, but that doesn’t mean they are an inconsiderate person. You must always show your spouse mutual respect, no matter how heated an argument becomes.
Name-calling will most certainly cause your significant other to harbor resentment. You’ll lose their trust as you have now created an environment of persecution and degradement. Name-calling is hurtful to that person, hurtful to you, and damages your relationship.
4) Fight for Something Instead of Against Someone: Fighting is normal and is a perfectly healthy part of a relationship. The key to fighting is making sure you are fighting for “something” instead of against “someone.” The goal isn’t to win the fight, but to work together to develop creative solutions so you both get more of what you want without making considerable sacrifices–although this isn’t always possible.
5) Every Relationship is Different: It’s important to recognize that every relationship is different. Your Rules of Engagement will likely be drastically different than my rules of engagement for me and my wife. For instance, some people think swearing is totally inappropriate when fighting with a spouse, others not so much. The key is to understand what works for you and your significant other and make sure to play by those rules.
Fights are an inevitable part of a relationship, that’s why it’s crucial to learn how to do so in a healthy, productive manner. By doing so, I can guarantee your relationship will strengthen and you will both get more of what you want in the process.
How about you? What are your Rules of Engagement when fighting with your significant other?