Tag Archives: fight fair

Is “Good Fighting” Beneficial to Marriage?

Many couples fear that frequent arguing can signal their relationship’s demise. It may be the type of arguing you do, not the frequency, that determines your fate.

Do couples that fight actually have an edge? A 2012 study found that 44 percent of married couples believe that fighting more than once a week helps keep the lines of communication open.

William Doherty, professor in the University of Minnesota’s department of family social science says although this study was done in India, it reinforces similar U.S. studies. He warns, however, that only “good fighting” can be helpful, and that “bad fighting” can be destructive.

A “good fight” would be a discussion or conflict with a soft start-up rather than a hard start-up. For example, a soft start-up may begin, “I’m feeling very overwhelmed and could really use some help.” On the other hand, a hard start-up may begin, “Why am I the only one who ever does any housework around here?”

Here are a few other tips from Doherty on “good fighting”:

  1. Dealing with an issue can be better than ignoring it, especially if resentment is building.
  2. Focus only on the topic at hand; don’t bring up old issues.
  3. Don’t bring in third parties or their opinions.
  4. Don’t compare your spouse to someone else.
  5. Don’t use “you always/never”.
  6. Remember to RESPECT one another.
  7. Apologize when it’s warranted. This shows you value the relationship.

You can check out the source article at the Chicago Tribune: Couples who argue together stay together.

Check out Lori Lowe’s book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage,  at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com

Photo by Photostock courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Do You Have Boundaries for Fighting Fair?

Every marriage experiences some sort of conflict. We all differ in how we handle it. In some marriages, one person is aggressive, while the other is passive. In other relationships, both spouses do their best to avoid conflict, but they never address the underlying cause of arguments, instead merely sweep them under the rug.

For those who fight it out, or talk it out, or work it out, it helps to have a list of boundaries that are agreed upon ahead of time. Ideally, this list would be created early in a marriage, but if you don’t have one yet, use your personal history to guide you.

The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick recommends agreed-upon boundaries to prevent fracturing the relationship in a way you will regret when the heat of the argument cools off. When we are angry we can say very hurtful things, leaving a trail of pain and regret. The following are some of the book’s examples of boundaries both spouses might decide to follow:

1. We will never mention divorce.

2. We will not bring up old, unrelated items from the past.

3. We will never fight in public or in front of our children.

4. We will call a “time out” if conflict escalates to a damaging level.

5. We will never touch one another in a harmful way.

6. Failure is not an option. Whatever it takes, we will work this out.

The book also recommends creating your own personal list of to-dos, such as, “I will listen first before speaking,” or “I will keep my voice down when arguing.” At the end of a disagreement, you want to be healthier than you were before, not more splintered.

Some people need to be able to have time alone to think things through. For others, it’s important not to go to sleep angry. Decide what is helpful to you. Assess your relationship’s strengths and weaknesses as well as your own personalities. When have you become most angry with one another? Where might you need to agree on boundaries? Are there some areas you wish you had created boundaries?

When you need to reconnect after you have resolved a fight, consider the power of music.

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How do Stable Couples Fight Fairly?

If it seems like you are having the same argument again and again, you are not alone. Marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman conducted a four-year follow-up study with married couples and concluded that 31% of marriage arguments are about short-term issues, and 69% of marital problems are recurring.  

His research provides some insight into why some couples handle short-term marriage conflicts better than others, explaining that stable couples have a “gentler approach.” This more effective approach includes:

  • Bringing up the problem in a soft, not harsh manner
  • Presenting their issues with more positive and less negative affect
  • Accepting influence from spouse
  • Repairing the interaction when it became negative
  • Being willing to compromise
  • Using humor in problem solving

Unstable couples, on the other hand, tend to allow the negative discussions to escalate and showed high levels of criticism, contempt, defensiveness and sadness. 1

If you have an issue you would like to talk about with a spouse, think about how you plan to approach and discuss it. First, ask yourself if this is a short-term problem or a recurring argument. As you plan your approach, consider if you are viewing things with your own “right answer” or whether you are willing to listen to your partner’s perspective and compromise. Slamming your partner with an insult or issuing a litany of complaints would not be a good start. Pick a good time and place, and if it’s a small matter, keep the conversation brief.

Don’t be afraid to lighten up. I’ve heard the fastest way to get a man to flee is to open with the plea, “We need to talk.”  

(1) The Relationship Research Institute, created by Dr. John Gottman, http://www.gottman.com