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5 Ground Rules for Fighting Fair

All couples fight, but those who fight fair are the ones who tend to stick together. Marriage and relationship fights are never easy, but they can be productive and even at times be a blessing.  If you work together to keep these 5 ground rules for fighting fair in place.

Rule #1 Maintain Control
Rule #2 Never Interrupt – Implement 2 Minute Clout
Rule #3 Do Not Bring Up the Past – Implement 48-hour Clout
Rule #4 Do Not Criticize – No going below the belt
Rule #5 Apologize

Rule 1: Maintain control.

Maintaining control during an argument is crucial to fighting fair, you need to learn to recognize when you’re about to lose it.  You need to be aware enough to say, “Hey listen, I need a 10-minute time out”.

Couples can use a “10-minute time out” let each other know when they need time to cool off.   When your partner uses the word “time out” during an argument, it’s a signal for you to give them a break.  You MUST respect the request for time out (no excuses).

Keep your cool. This is key to fighting fair. Use a “time out” word that allows you and your partner to know when it’s time to de-escalate and take a break.

Rule 2: Never interrupt.

  • When you interrupt your partner, you are listening to respond rather than to understand, what’s worse, is you are trying to dominate and control your partner every time you interrupt.  You’re not allowing your partner to express what they need to say.
  • Be polite. When we interrupt, we are listening to respond rather than understand. We are also trying to control the conversation. To prevent interrupting, choose an object and make it a rule that only the person holding it can speak.

Rule 3: Do not bring up the past.

  • Couples will often bring up their partner’s past transgressions to attack him or her during an argument. If a partner is continuously bringing up old grudges, it means there is an underlying problem of un-forgiveness.  While it’s tempting to do, it doesn’t work, because it takes the focus away from the original argument. You must deal with one issue at a time.
  • Focus on the present. Focus only on the argument at hand. When fights start to get ugly, it’s tempting to bring up past grievances. But doing this takes the focus away from what you were originally arguing about and makes the argument worse.

Rule 4: Do NOT criticize.

  • When couples begin to criticize each other, they are no longer arguing constructively they are just fighting dirty.  “You’re basically now just saying, ‘It’s not about the issue, you’re a dirty liar.’ This is personal.  You’re not fixing the problems.  From there, the argument quickly spirals into name calling, criticizing, and using aggressive language.  So that’s how we start fighting about the way we’re fighting; rather than dealing with the issue.
  • Don’t lash out. When fights get dirty, couples start to name call. This turns the attention away from the problem and focuses on the person instead.

Rule 5: Apologize.

  • Learning to recognize and take responsibility for when you’ve hurt your partner is crucial.  It’s often the easiest way to resolve a conflict, but for many people, it’s the hardest thing to do.
  • We all need a proper apology that acknowledges the hurt, the pain, that accepts responsibility, being held accountable, problem solves, and asks for forgiveness.  But when you apologize, like for so many couples, they’re no longer the enemy. Defenses drop, you’ve taken responsibility, you’ve acknowledged their hurt, and connection is restored, and trust is being built, too.
  • Say you’re sorry. Apologizing is often the quickest way to resolve a conflict. But to work, it needs to be done properly. An effective apology acknowledges the hurt you’ve caused, accepts responsibility for it, and asks for forgiveness.

Work together to keep these 5 simple ground rules in place and your relationship will improve overall!   Need to talk with a professional relationship coach? Contact Marriage Means Moore for a FREE Consultation!

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