The Secret to Fighting Fair
I was talking with a good friend recently about the importance of expressing oneself. Our friend was staying at our house with us, and at one point, he witnessed Keith and I getting into an argument.
“Oh!” said our friend, “So you do have fights!”
We expressed to him that we did not consider it to be a fight. We were simply having a very passionate discussion, in which we did not necessarily agree with each other.
Of course, our friend was amused by this description. He told us that we were doing what he calls, “fair fighting.” When I asked what he meant by that, he explained that it’s when a couple is arguing, but they don’t cross over into name calling, or trying to hurt each other (verbally or physically).
From there, we began talking about the dangers of holding back our true feelings with our partner - how oftentimes people are afraid to say what they are feeling, so they keep it inside, and eventually it can get so bottled up that they explode. Sometimes the explosion might be an angry outburst, in which they end up saying hurtful things to their partner, or even becoming physically abusive. Or the explosion could take its toll on the person’s own body, with the high level of stress creating the conditions for a host of physical or mental health problems.
It may not be easy to express what’s on your mind, especially if you have gotten into the habit of keeping your mouth shut, but it is vitally important that you find a way to do it. Of course, if you are feeling so angry that you’re afraid you won’t be able to say what’s on your mind without hurting the other person, then it’s usually best to wait. But don’t wait forever! Just take a few minutes to cool off, maybe go outside and take a walk to clear your head. And then, when you come back to the discussion, speak from your heart about what is going on for you. Take responsibility for your feelings - don’t try to blame your partner for whatever is going on. And make sure you take the time to listen to your partner after you are done speaking.
In our book, The Seven Steps to Successful Relationships, we share our secret for shifting the dynamic in a heated discussion. It’s called, The Format, and it’s a way of speaking to - and listening to - your partner that is truly miraculous. It’s easy to learn, and with practice it will become natural to you, and will help you improve all of your relationships - from spouses, to children, to colleagues, to friends.
As we welcome in springtime, and watch as Mother Nature renews herself again, let us practice self-renewal, and a renewal in our relationships with one another. Each new day is a chance to start fresh. To learn new things, create new behaviors, and share new gifts with the ones we love.
And remember to express yourself!
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