Do you resort to extreme or irrational tactics when you’re fighting? You know, like slamming the doors or exaggerated motions and loud voices? Do you need to have the last snarky word? Do you get historical when you’re hysterical, bringing up past wounds and offenses? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to learn how to fight fair. Marriage is a union of two fallen humans. Conflicts are inevitable. Many of us believe that conflict is bad and unwelcomed. But the truth is, couples who know how to resolve conflict well actually strengthen their relationships and their intimacy. They take the time to listen and learn a little bit more about what their spouses are actually thinking and feeling. So here are six steps to help us deal with conflict in a positive way.
Step one: Establish some rules of engagement. Set the time and place for your discussion. Allow some time to cool down and find a place where the kids won’t be a distraction, acknowledge there’s a problem and agree together on when and where you’re going to talk about it.
Step two: Identify the problem and look for a win win, not a me vs. you solution. If you both win, you build intimacy. If somebody wins and someone loses, intimacy is weakened.
Step three: Stick to the issue. Don’t fight a multi-front war. This leads to more confusion and more anger.
Step four: Use “I” statements to express your feelings instead of attacking with “you” statements.
Step five: Forgive and forget. The reality is that both spouses can be harmed in an argument. Humbly ask for and grant forgiveness and agree not to bring the issue up again.
And finally, Step six: Pray and ask God to help you navigate through this challenging time and to ask Him for the power to mirror his forgiveness and unconditional love.