How To Fight So You Both Win
Think about the last disagreement you and your spouse had.
Are you proud of the way you handled it? Conflict is an unavoidable part of marriage and it is important to approach each disagreement as a team with an arsenal of tools and resources so that you both win. Come at disagreements the same way you would a battle - well prepared and with a plan.
You can use these 9 tools to address disagreement together.
1. Zip It
When your spouse opens up to you, it is relationally life-or-death important that he/she feels heard before you respond. So, don’t interrupt and allow your spouse ample time to help you understand their side.
Before you respond, clarify that you understand what your spouse is trying to say by using the phrase, “So, what I hear you saying is ________”, or “Help me better understand _______”. Give them the opportunity to clarify first just in case you heard something differently than they meant.
Learn not to minimize your spouse’s pain by using phrases like, “That’s not true! I/you always/never ______”. Instead, whether you agree with their feelings or not, take the time to validate your spouse by using the phrase, “I did not realize you felt so ______ about ______. That must have been hard / painful / difficult for you”.
4. “I feel ____ when ____ because _____.”
It is crucial that you do not place blame on your spouse and that you own your feelings and point of view. (i.e. “I felt hurt when you were late for dinner because it is important to me that you are on time”.)
5. Never raise your voice
It is okay to be passionate, but it is not ever okay to yell at your spouse. Yelling escalates conflict quickly and does more harm than good.
6. Take a time out
If you feel yourself getting too heated, it is okay to say, “Honey, I love you and I want to resolve this matter, but I need 30 minutes to calm down. Can we pick this back up again in a half-hour?” If your spouse asks for a time-out, be understanding and give it to them.
7. Speak truth in love; be humble, not defensive
While one of your jobs as a spouse is occasionally to help correct your spouse by helping them address bad habits or behaviors, it is not your job to belittle them or make them feel small. Correction is always better received when it is spoken in love. Furthermore, when it is time for your spouse to help correct you, be humble and not defensive.
8. Never, ever use the word “Divorce”
Unless your spouse has cheated or is abusive, this word is a death-sentence to your relationship. Agree to never, ever use it and honor your word.
9. Always make up afterwards
Always. Kiss, cuddle, and follow where that leads. Be spontaneously intimate. You won’t regret it.
We teach some of these tricks in more detail in our mymarriage365 webcasts. Sign up for a membership and watch our webcast "How To Fight Naked" INSTANTLY.
Written by Anna Collins
Anna Collins lives in sunny Southern California with her husband and two children. She is passionate about her marriage, staying at home with her kids, writing, coffee, good conversation, and game night. Her life dream is to someday write a book and see it published.