If you read Part 1, then you know that conflict in a marriage is a normal result of two different people living together. Unfortunately, if the spouses don’t know how to fight without damaging the relationship, it is usually a reason for the decline in emotional intimacy between the two partners.
And over a period of years, the resulting accumulated cracks in the unhappy marriage can lead to the crumbling of the marriage and the family.
The good news is that fighting doesn’t have to mean that marriage problems are in store. In fact, if you go by established fair fighting rules, then the conflict can actually strengthen the marriage by establishing boundaries that are acceptable to both spouses.
You can take action and ask your spouse if the two of you can work together to develop a list of fair fighting rules that you both agree to abide by. Here are some possibilities for you to consider:
- Listen to each other and let each person speak his or her mind. This can be difficult to do when you’re frustrated, impatient, and agitated. But until you have heard each other out, you don’t have all the information you need to try to reach a respectful compromise.
- Take a break from the discussion when it gets too emotional or “heavy.” Go to the bathroom, step outside on the deck, or do some deep breathing exercises to help relieve the stress. Let yourself cool down and give yourself a chance to regroup before continuing the discussion.
- Apologize immediately when you slip and say something that might hurt your spouse’s feelings. Say, “I didn’t mean that. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for that to come out sounding like that. Please forgive me. Let me try again.”
- Look for a “win-win” compromise resolution. Some issues are more important to one spouse than the other, and it builds up good will to go with your partner’s views when it doesn’t really matter as much to you.
If your spouse wants you to record the checks you write in a certain way so that it’ll be easier for him or her to handle the bill-paying, it probably makes sense to go along with it, even if it’s not the way you’d do it. That will build up good will so that the next time you have a differing opinion about something that’s really important to you, you’ll have a better chance of acquiring support from your spouse.
- If the subject is too emotional for you and your spouse to resolve between the two of you, then consider enlisting the help of a marital guidance expert to serve as mediator. It may only take two to three sessions to clear the air, generate some new options, and make a decision. And the best part is that by using a marriage counselor or coach to help you work out an acceptable compromise, you avoid the long-term strain and emotional drain that could damage your marriage for years.
Until you and your spouse can discuss emotional issues and have differing opinions without being disrespectful to each other, it will be impossible to tackle the really crucial issues in your marriage with any lasting success.
Without mutual respect and the assurance that you won’t be ridiculed, you will both be reluctant to express your true feelings and show vulnerability.
–By Nancy Wasson, Ph.D.
Tags: anger, differing opinions, disrespectful, emotional abuse, fair fighting, Fight without Hurting Your Marriage, mad at each other, mad at husband, mad at spouse, mad at wife, physical abuse, settle your differences, showing respect