Many books and articles have been written on the topic of how to get through these really difficult times in your relationship and about how to ‘fight’ our way through them in a fair way. This means that the outcome will only be found in consideration of our own contribution to the conflict as well as to the others.
The one thing that’s common to all of the approaches is that when something is not working for you in your relationship, it needs to be brought out into the open, and discussed. In this way, rather than getting caught up in some old ‘out-of-date’ way of attempting to get your needs met you may come up with something more helpful that might result in actually getting your needs met in an appropriate way.
The Rules for Fair Fighting
Hence my rules for fighting fair are firstly; when I feel stressed, I take whatever time I need to compose myself while attempting to find the most effective way to share what I need to say with the person I’m in conflict with. The thing is you can’t fight fair when you are full of emotion whether it is anger, sadness or disappointment.
I use all of the interpersonal skills that I have learned, taking time to listen to the other’s point of view with as open a mind as I can and using phrases, as is fitting, like “I hear you”, and “I get what you are saying”, without negating that with a “but” but rather expanding on it with an “and”.
One word I really try to avoid using, despite Charlie Harper’s partial success in “Two and a Half Men”, is “I understand”. The truth is I can never really understand another’s perspective. In actual fact the best I can do is hear it and acknowledge their experience of whatever is going on as their truth even if it doesn’t fit with mine.
So a typical response then might sound more like this: “I hear what you’re saying about what you think is happening and I think …(put in here your own view)… might be happening too!” This is a much softer way of adding your thoughts on a topic that doesn’t leave the other feeling like they’ve been backed into a corner. They can feel that they’ve been heard so are more likely then to hear clearly what you are trying to say.
Try out these strategies over the next little while and come back to discover some more of the strategies I use in my next article.
So until next time – Relate with Love