Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fight Fair Dammit

Studies have shown that one of the best indicators of whether a couple’s relationship will survive and thrive is how they fight and argue.

People who can calmly listen to the other person’s side of a discussion even when they don’t agree with them, are far more likely to have a lasting love life.

Couples who respect each other enough to fight fair have the ability to make the rest of their relationship more loving and happier in good times and bad.

There are few rules to fighting that should just go without saying. School yard politics and having siblings and best friends should teach people how to play nicely and fight fair. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. So for those who failed in the playground, were unfortunate enough to not have siblings or best friends or who simply need a reminder, these are for you.

1. Keep your hands to yourself when angry.
It is never okay to strike someone when you’re having a verbal fight. Guys shouldn’t hit girls and girls shouldn’t hit guys. End of story. If the anger needs to exit your body in a physical way, strike something that either won’t hurt someone (including yourself), won’t cause property damage (especially if it’s not yours) and can be easily fixed or replaced (like pillows). If you have a trigger temper, don’t try to touch the other person at all. The chances of a temper flare turning into physical violence is text book “too easy”.

2. Threats are NOT okay.
Don’t throw out threats to damage a persons reputation, share personal content with someone else, cut them off from financial or emotional support or cause them, their personal property or loved ones harm. You won’t swing the vote in your direction or sway your partner’s opinion by threatening them. It will raise the stakes, but only against you. If you make a threat you can’t or aren’t prepared to back up, this will make you appear like a weak liar. If you can and do back up your threats you’ll either be an a-hole or a criminal (possibly both). There is no win here.

3. Keep it above the belt.
Don’t resort to cheap shots that are intended to wound just because you’re angry and the conversation isn’t going your way. Insults, name calling or pointing out sensitive flaws will only throw fuel on the fire of yet another fight.

4. Speak the truth.
If it’s not true when you’re not angry, then it’s not true when you are mad either. Don’t say things you don’t mean, or that are honestly not true just because you’re having a fight and emotions are running high. It’s not going to help your argument that you’re correct if you’re resorting to lying to get your way.

5. Keep the past in the past.

Dragging up irrelevant stuff from previous fights or four years ago isn’t going to help anything. It won’t change the past or the present. But it will definitely hurt the future. It’s a great way to drive a deeper wedge between you and your sweetheart. It could end the fights completely, but only because you’ll end up alone and never speaking again.

6. Leave other people out of the fight.
Friends, old loves, in-laws, children and pet Fido have no place in a fight unless the argument is specifically about them. Don't call them up to get a third opinion. Don't have them stand in to listen to the fight. Don't make comparisons to them. Saying stuff like “You’re just like your mom: A manipulative b#tch!” is plain wrong. Not only is that going to cost you later, it’s probably not really true (after all you’re with that person NOT their mom) and it’s going to leave a scar that time and all the flowers in the world won’t make go away.

7. Remember who you’re fighting with.
You might be angry enough with this person to spit nails. It’s possible you’ve even contemplating wringing their neck or ripping their leg off and beating them with it. But keep in mind this is STILL someone you love and care about. At the very least, they are someone who deserves honesty, respect and a fair fight even if it’s your last argument with them. Chances are though, you truly want them to be happy and their opinions matter to you or else you’d be walking out the door and not staying to argue with them. Treat them like you love them, even when you’re angry at them.

8. Remember why you’re fighting.
Stay focused. What is the goal of the argument? To change/ improve something? To get results? Or just to pass the time and stir up emotions? Arguments can be a productive way to share different opinions and see both sides of a perspective. But if it’s not a productive conversation because you’re not listening to each other or emotions are too strong, stop it and save the talk for another time.

9. Compromise more than you think you should.
Great relationships are about sharing yourself with others and bettering another person’s life by thoughtful gestures and through kind words and actions. The relationship is often worth the small sacrifices you make to appease them. As long as you’re not always the one to capitulate or the argument isn’t over something obvious like paying the mortgage vs. taking a vacation to Figi.

10. Make up afterwords.
Whether you arrive at a compromise, got your way or feel like you gave in to let the other person have their way, end the fight the same way you would in a ring. At the very least shake on it. The expression “kiss and make up” comes to mind. But at the end of the day you want to end on a happy note so don't let the bad feelings linger. Let it go. Forgive and forget and move on. Don't let a fight ruin a day, or a week. Days and weeks add up to valuable years of your life. It's just a waste of a perfectly good chance to being loving and happy.

Fighting dirty is a quick way to end a great relationship with everyone you care about. Follow the Golden Rule whether you're engaging in sweet talk or a heated debate. And remember, if you’re stooping to eye gouging and groin shots- you’re leaving yourself open to the same thing.

Being good (and kind) in an argument so you can have a happy lasting relationship is one statistic you want to be part of.

So, Fight fair. Always. It will ensure that people respect you, trust you and love you even if they don’t agree with you all the time. And respect, trust and love are worth whatever it takes to earn them. Every time.

1 comment:

schwarzefahne said...

interesting enough, my grandfather once told me that the best way to fight a woman was with your hat; grab it and run.