Fighting Fair

It’s inevitable that a married couple is going to fight at some point in their relationship. When I use the word “fight,” I’m talking about verbal arguments, not physical encounters. When I hear couples say they never argue, that’s a red flag for me. I think every couple gets a little irritated with each other on occasion. It’s normal! The most important thing to remember when you do have disagreements is to fight fair.

One of the rules in fighting fair is to agree to resolve your issue instead of seeking victory. When your end goal in a disagreement is to declare victory, that means you want someone to lose. That’s okay if you’re watching your favorite football or baseball team, but it’s not productive when your opponent is your wife. In fact, you’re not fighting an opponent, but a member of your own team. Therefore, your approach should be different.

When you’re seeking a resolution instead of a win, you’re more likely to avoid low blows. In a regulated boxing match, those are cause for a penalty. In a marriage, it could result in someone sleeping on the couch. Low blows occur when you respond to your mate with extremely sarcastic comments or when you bring up issues that occurred ten years ago. There’s no room in the marital ring for history lessons. When something hurtful happens in a relationship and you resolve it amicably, it’s not fair to bring it up again three years later. That’s like a sucker punch in boxing. Your spouse doesn’t expect it because they believe the issue was resolved and forgotten.

Fighting fair includes agreeing to fight. No shadow boxing. That means one spouse can’t use the silent treatment and let the other spouse just throw punches. That’s a tactic some people will use when an argument occurs. They withhold their feelings and emotions, which upsets their partner even more. It’s a ploy that leads to more anger, not less animosity. The relationship moves in the wrong direction and couples end up going to bed angry. When people stay mad at each other for a long period of time, they see everything that happens from that point on through a lens of anger. So, no matter what their spouse does, the other person can’t see the good in it or any reconciliation attempts. They just see red!

When both spouses act stubbornly, it’s up to one person to put down their defenses and give up their pride. Somebody has to be willing to make the first move. Consider how much time is wasted between couples when both spouses hold on to their arrogance, believing their smugness is better than reconciliation. Again, you’re on the same team and the outcome should be a win-win.

Disagreements, irritation, and differences of opinion are all going to happen within a marriage. It’s part of any relationship, but with your spouse the stakes are higher and the fighting can be more personal because of how well you know each other. There’s a tendency to use that information against someone instead of using it to encourage them.

Seek to handle your arguments positively. Address them immediately. Don’t let them fester and grow into something that’s bigger than it should be. Every couple has a story of how something as silly as a toothpaste cap turned into three days of silence. Don’t waste precious time. Fight fair and win more at home.