My occasionally snarky thoughts on everything from motherhood, politics, life and current events. Cocktails are sometimes mandatory. Bottoms up!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Fighting Fair

My friend Trouble over at Dubious Wonder is mulling over a new chapter in her life and how (if possible) couples can fight fairly.

"It is overwhelming at times, the realization of how much I still have to learn. I don't know how to fight with a person I love in a way that doesn't cause permanent damage. I used to think that love was so strong, that it couldn't be damaged no matter how many fights we had. That was before I learned that love is indeed strong, but it's fragile, too. It can be damaged, and in such a way as to leave scars that do not heal."
Fights happen. We are all human and eventually, even the one that you would walk through fire for will piss you off. That's life. The question is how does one fight fair? How do you have a fight without irreparably damaging the relationship?

Having been happily married for the past 11+ years with plenty of rocky moments and ample opportunities for Shane (aka Hubby) and I to piss eachother off, I thought that maybe I could shed a little light. Speaking only for myself (I'll be asking for Hubby's insight as well) , I personally try to follow a few "fighting" rules.

1) No personal attacks or name calling. You do not bring honor to yourself when your only goal is to "hurt" someone. This does not get your point across. You might as well be pissin' into the wind or tossing molotov cocktails into an inferno. It does no good. When you are angry, it isn't even safe to "jokingly" name call. Don't do it.

2) Ask yourself, is this issue (that you are ready to go toe to toe over) going to matter in 1 day? 1 week? 1 month? 1 year? 5 years? Forever? Adjust your level of anger/hostility accordingly. Not all issues carry the same weight. But anger? Feels like anger.... Every. Time.

3) And speaking of "weight". If you can, WAIT. Cool off. Figure out what it is that you want to say, what you want to get across. Remember, that once things are said they can never be unsaid. Ask yourself, (honestly) is this really an issue or is it hormones? Seriously. Sometimes it's just hormones or a bad day, and we know it.

4) Do not be afraid to say that you are sorry EVEN IF YOU ARE STILL PISSED. Pissed will pass, sorry lasts much longer. And we all say things that are mean when we are pissed. Say you're sorry. It won't kill you.

5) Remind yourself often that though you were continually attacked in the past THIS IS NOT THE PAST. The past is over, this is a completely new person. A completely DIFFERENT relationship. Give the guy the benefit of the doubt even when he says something stupid that pushes so many buttons you feel like a switchboard. (I think that this one is the hardest to follow, btw... )

6) Verbal Zingers are great when you are having fun. But they can be lethal and are nearly impossible to repair when said in anger. Just remember that.

The biggest point I would like to make though, is to CONSTANTLY remind yourself that you LOVE this person. Even if you have to keep saying it out loud while you fight. You do not under any circumstances want to hurt them just to make a flippin' point.

I am certainly not perfect. My relationship with my husband is not perfect. My husband and I have had some time stoppin', arm flappin', toe to toe screaming fights. (Not many, but it's happened). But I have never once felt "unsafe" or "unloved". People fight. Misunderstandings happen. I think it is just better and more effective to play fair...

Anything I have missed? Feel free to leave your suggestion in the comments. Good luck Trouble, I'm pulling for you! And remember my own personal motto:
Complete honesty in word and deed is a good way to get punched out.
True 'dat.