Fight Right: Stop Screaming. Start Talking.
By Patty Lamberti
Even the happiest of couples fight on occasion. It's unavoidable. But you can avoid engaging in a screaming match that doesn't resolve the issue at hand. Here are a few tips on how to argue effectively:
Never start a sentence with "you."
When fighting with your partner, your first instinct is to blame him or her for everything. It's tempting to say statements like, "You never listen." "You never do the dishes." "You just sit around watching TV all the time." But once you start a sentence with "you", the other person immediately becomes defensive. Instead of listening, your partner starts thinking of rebuttals and things "you've" done wrong. Instead, start each sentence with "I." For example, the above statements can be expressed as: "I feel sad when it seems like you're not listening." "I can't stand doing the dishes all the time." "I'm worried that you're wasting your life away watching Sopranos reruns." Because your partner won't feel so defensive, he or she will be more apt to listen.
Don't fight in front of other people.
We don't care how much whiskey you've drank - don't bring up touchy subjects in front of another person. Besides the fact that you'll make that person feel uncomfortable, neither one of you can truly speak freely in front of someone else.
Avoid fighting about money.
According to a survey conducted by the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Atlanta, sixty percent of all couples fight about money. Try to avoid it. Fighting about money is ugly. If your partner doesn't spend or save money in a way you can deal with, end the relationship.
Live and let live.
People's general personalities don't change. Stop thinking your partner will. Specific behaviors can change, but not a person's fundamental being. If your partner is jealous, for example, don't hold your breath that he or she will suddenly trust you.
Be aware of your body language.
Look each other in the eye when arguing. Don't turn your back. Make sure you are both at the same level physically, i.e. one person shouldn't stand while the other sits. The person who is standing will feel superior. Don't smoke while arguing, as you may literally blow smoke in someone's face.
Watch the clock.
Don't start an argument right before you have to go out, or right before bed. Wait until you have enough time to talk.
Think about the underlying issues.
Fights are rarely about what they seem on the surface. Fighting about dishes is really about inequality in your relationship. Fighting about an affair is really about the needs your partner isn't fulfilling. Analyze both the surface and hidden issues.
Put yourself in your partner's shoes.
It's always good to see the other side. You may find empathy for their actions and feelings if you see the world from their eyes.
See a therapist.
If you're not getting anywhere, and you still want to fight for your relationship, seek professional help.
We are all brought up thinking that fighting is something to be avoided. But arguing can be a healthy part of any relationship if you know how to fight right.
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