My husband and I don’t know how to “fight fair.”
They say that opposites attract, and that’s partly true for us - we come from different cultures and grew up with everything different, from foods to music.
But we’re the same on one thing - arguing till one of us drops from exhaustion or storms out the door.
It’s unhealthy, I know. But we can’t seem to stop it once we’re both fixated on the fight.
We do love each other, when there are no ongoing battles over disagreements. But when we fight, we can barely look at each other.
It can be as practical a decision as whether to paint the house vs. join a gym, or whether our child should start karate lessons… typically, we’ll turn it into a war of words and see who wears the other one down.
Can you help us?
Disagreements occur in every relationship, unless one partner’s always dominant or controlling, the other submissive or passive, and both want it that way. That’s not ever going to happen with you two.
Instead, how to have “healthy disagreements” that lead to decisions based on logic or compromise, is what you both should be learning.
Otherwise, those wearying battles can sap your commitment to stay together.
So, it’s wise to consider all that you two can do to learn to fight fair.
Here’s an incentive from the start: Resolving a stormy battle together and walking away unscathed because you both actually listened and understood the other’s view, will increase closeness and intimacy between you.
Many websites provide lists of fair-fight rules, such as the most basic one: Don’t fight in front of the kids.
But there are more “do’s” to fighting fair that matter equally.
Start with DO think about what you really want from your marriage… total agreement on all issues, staying together even if you don’t respect his/her values?
Or resolving small-stuff easily because if it’s small, you shouldn’t be sweating it even if you still think you’re right.
Ask yourself, DO you love this person enough to accept his/her seeming “flaws” sometimes?
DO remember that some of the conflicts are a normal expression of your cultural differences (in which neither is more right than the other).
DO set boundaries on your own words. If you use them as weapons and aim to hurt/deflate/insult, it sparks a psychological war from which someone will eventually want to walk away instead of calling a truce or compromising.
Here’s the DO that may be hardest but is also most, essential, recommended by Daniel Dashnaw, a Massachusetts-based Marriage and Family Therapist, writing in couplestherapyinc.com:
“Take a break from the fight when it’s on the brink of escalation. And make repair attempts along the way too.”
That’s fair warning.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who feels her husband secretly “used her as a beard” over 10 years while he pursued a gay lifestyle (Oct. 29):
Reader – “Apart from your advice that she remain with counselling, urging her to remain with a man who belittled her for years serves him but doesn't serve her at all.
“How would they rebuild trust after such a fundamental/profound deception, what’s their relationship other than a long-term lie?
“I'd rather you’d advised her to move out and seek what joy she can find in the remainder of her life after a marriage that’s sapped her confidence and her health.
“What can he offer her now that he didn't willingly withhold earlier?”
Reader #2 – “Since she’s severely depressed and suffering serious health issues, staying with this man who’s affected her current state of mental health is NOT a good idea. Separation is.
“He stated, “I’ve changed for the better. It’s a younger man’s world. We need to support each other in old age.”
“That’s the con artist still at work. He doesn’t want to be alone. He's grown old and likely been rejected many times because of his age.
“He’s still using her and will continue doing so.
“Forgiveness doesn’t mean keeping him in her life. It means forgiving herself for being wilfully blind, then moving on so she doesn't waste the next years of her life.”
Ellie - I agreed that separation may be the answer, but felt that leaving him while she’s so depressed and fragile, made her too vulnerable to be on her own until she had more counselling help.
Tip of the day:
Disagreements occur in every couple’s relationship. “Fighting fair” is how they can disagree and stay connected.