Disagreements with our partners happen. Unlike all the happily-ever-after movies that end with a warm embrace right before the lights fade out to the credits, our lives with our spouses don’t get to stay on that high note for the rest of time. So, if we’ve committed to a lifetime and fighting is inevitable, the least we can do is learn some rules on how to fight fair.
While marital fights are hardly ever fun, it’s important to know that they are normal and can be seen as a good sign. Husbands sometimes struggle to accept that when their wife is fighting with them, it means she cares about the quality of the marriage. And couples who learn how to fight fair can actually increase their intimacy (via Couples Therapy Inc.). One rule is to never fight in front of your children. While it may be hard to put disputes on hold until you are not around your kids, studies have shown that witnessing their parents fighting can harm children’s physical, emotional, and developmental well-being (via Couples Therapy Inc.).
Find a word to signal a "time out"
Another step in how to stay fair in conflict is to maintain control. Couples therapist Casey Caston shares that in an agitated state, the blood begins to leave the part of your brain that regulates emotional control. In this state, you become flooded with distress. “Once you’re flooded you literally don’t have the capacity to handle it successfully,” says Caston (via NBC News). Caston goes on to explain that you and your partner can find a word that signals you need a “time out” to keep a fight from escalating.
Another useful tip to keep in mind when it comes to fighting is to remember it is love, not war. We know, it may be a hard concept to grasp when you’re seeing red. But words can be used as weapons, so maintain respect and courtesy toward your partner and try to avoid inflicting pain to make a point (via Couples Therapy Inc.).
So, while the fairy tales never showed us what happened after happily ever after, it’s up to us to find out the best way to handle the inevitable spats so we can also get back to being in that warm embrace.
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