Fighting Fair for Couples

It takes time and understanding to manage a loving relationship. Regardless of how much we love each other and work at our romantic relationship, there are bound to be difficulties that lead to arguments. This can be more evident for Seniors who spend a larger amount of time in one another’s company without the buffer of jobs or the raising of a family.

We are two very different people trying to live one life together, after all. When fights do occur, don’t let them descend into a free-for-all. Just like every other “game” in life, there are rules to fighting that everyone in love should abide by if they want to maintain their happy relationship.

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We all have to face up to the fact that we will have to begin conversations about touchy subjects throughout life. We may try to put them off for as long as possible because we don’t want to deal with them, but eventually, to keep the relationship healthy, we must.

As the years fly by we often take one another for granted. So, we become careless or neglectful of our partner’s feelings. We often sabotage or damage our partnership without realizing it until later. For some it can be too late.

These nine tips are designed to help couples fight fairly

Choose your timing carefully

It may never feel like the exact right time because you know it’s going to be a difficult conversation to have. Don’t pounce on your partner unexpectedly wanting them to change a long held pattern of behavior. Especially if this is something they have done for years and you are just now addressing this issue.

It can take real self-discipline to hold your tongue when you want to get something worked out right away. It’s better to schedule your conversation for a time when you are both relaxed and feeling well. When both of you are in a good frame of mind to discuss a difficult subject the conversation can end up not as challenging as you expected. If we blurt out our grievance without taking into consideration the mental state of the other person, or have given them no previous warning, we inevitably make the argument much larger than it needs to be.

Use “I” language

We’ve all heard this, but it bears repeating. The other person is immediately on the defensive when a sentence starts with “You do ___ and I don’t like it….”  It’s just human nature because it feels like we are being attacked. But keep in mind that no one can make us feel anything - only we ourselves can do that. So, switch your “you dos” to “I’s.” Say something like, “I feel ___ when you do ___.” It’s not just semantics - to show that you are in control of your feelings. You are focusing on the feelings instead of the behavior you don’t like. This allows the other person feel safe enough to let down their guard and discuss the situation rationally, instead of feeling blamed.

Focus on the now

It’s so easy to get all worked up and start pulling out grievances from months or years past. Most people tend to argue about the same type of issue over and over. For example, money and household responsibilities issues are common, even in the most loving relationships. Take care to avoid bringing up the past. And, if one of these slips out, apologize and come back to the current issue. (Note: if certain past issues continue to rear their ugly heads, it’s likely you have never truly resolved them.)


“At the end of the day, you can either focus on what’s tearing you apart or what’s keeping you together.”  - Anonymous


Never say never

This connects with the tip above. When you start throwing around words like always and never which are all encompassing, you know you are in dangerous territory. It’s usually an overstatement that simply escalates the fighting and does not accomplish anything or rectify the situation.

Discounting their feelings

We do this when we argue about the way they say they feel. Things like, “You shouldn’t feel that way because I didn’t mean it like that.” or getting angry when they share their feelings, even in a non-accusatory way can make the other person feel like their feelings don’t matter to you. Feelings are real. Obviously, you can’t maintain a firm connection with another person when they think their feelings are unimportant to you. Our feelings are our reality, and everyone’s reality is different because the way we experience things is different. Take care to avoid making your loved one believe they are wrong for having the experience that they are.

Believing one of you is right and the other is wrong

We live in a world of dichotomies. If something is wrong, something else must be right. But just as we explained above, everyone experiences the same situations differently based on our upbringing and background. These things shape the way we view situations. Many times, no one is right or wrong. We just need to come together long enough to understand that we don’t see things the same way and that there is nothing wrong in that. We can still have a strong committed relationship despite our differing views of reality.

Keep your feelings in check

Allow enough time to have passed so that you aren’t as emotional or angry as you originally were. When we bring a heavy dose of emotion into a difficult situation, it only amplifies everything - the words, thoughts, and feelings of everyone involved. The wrong words or a strong tone of voice can feel like an attack Before you bring up the topic, make sure that you can discuss it as objectively as possible. It will make the whole thing go more smoothly.

Listen without thinking

When it’s the other person’s turn to explain their side of the story or version of the situation, keep your thoughts clear. Really hear what they are saying to you. To do that, you must refrain from thinking about how you will respond when they are finished. We do this frequently in all types of conversations, and we should do our best to avoid it. But it’s never more important than when we are having a difficult conversation with someone we care about.

Understand that conflict happens

Even in the closest, most loving relationships, conflict is going to occur sometimes. If you have built a strong, healthy relationship with the other person, don’t let your fears of losing them run away with you. Strong relationships can tolerate the occasional argument or uncomfortable talk. It’s much better than the alternative, which is to bottle up anger and hurt, which results in a build-up of resentment. And we all know what happens when things build to a boiling point, they explode. Don’t let your loving relationship be swept away in that explosion.

For more information about what to expect if you Divorce After 20 Years of Marriage or More take a look at this post from the Equitable Mediation Services blog.

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