Learn to fight fair
The cliché that ‘no relationship is perfect’ and that ‘conflict is inevitable’ may be true, but perhaps you’re having more than your fair share of confrontations? Do you wonder if your arguments reflect a troubled or doomed relationship?
While disagreements may be inevitable, they can enhance and even strengthen a relationship. The outcome of conflict is determined by your attitude and actions. How best to handle differences of opinion and conflict in a relationship is perhaps the number one reason couples seek professional help. However, with a little work, love, cooperation and patience many couples can learn to fight fair.
Here is a short list of some ways to ensure that your disagreements don’t push your relationship over the deep end:
Respectfully voice your opinion and consider the others. Be open to seriously consider your partner’s thoughts on the issue. Avoid dominating the conversation – loud and brass rambling won’t make you right, no matter how good you are at subduing your partner. You may succeed in intimidating your partner into submission, but that will only serve to put a distance between the two of you.
Another tactic to avoid is diversion. Moving the conversation off-topic just adds fuel to the fire and will make it difficult, if not impossible, to deal with the actual problem. Keeping to the subject at hand will help you both learn to compromise and respect your differences.
No trash talking. Remembering every minor infraction and throwing it into the mix of a contentious situation will only serve to make matters worse. Bringing up irrelevant past issues will only show your mean-spiritedness; trust will be compromised and intimacy will suffer. Healthy disagreements will never leave one partner victorious while the other is destroyed.
No name calling. Derogatory name-calling is a tactic of intimidation that conveys the message that you and your partner are not equals. It sends the message that you think your partner is inferior. This negative attitude will destroy the trust that is so vital to a healthy relationship.
No threats or tantrums. Angry accusations, yelling and screaming are fatal to any relationship. If you’re unable deal respectfully with your partner, chances are the relationship won’t last. It is essential that you learn the skills necessary to negotiate a compromise and ask their forgiveness.
Don’t play the blame game. Accept responsibility for your part in any disagreement. People who look to place the blame elsewhere are showing signs of immaturity. You may think that using a scapegoat to excuse your behavior will cover your guilt, but you will just be fooling yourself. Truth always comes out in the end, so you might as well admit to the truth and accept the consequences of your actions.
Never inflict pain. It should go without saying that physical assault and infliction of pain is an immediate deal breaker. No one should ever tolerate an abusive relationship of any kind. Fear and distrust will result in boundaries that will eliminate any chance for intimacy.
Admit when you’re wrong. Any argument will gain steam when both parties deny any responsibility for the disagreement. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t accept and respect each others differences, but someone needs to accept responsibility if a disagreement turns into an angry confrontation. When asked a direct question, answer without judgment or defensiveness. Never say ‘never’ or ‘always’. Using definitive terms that label or generalize will only bring on a more heated argument and move you away from the true issue. For example: “You never listen to me.”
Avoiding a difficult issue at the expense of your partner won’t be much of a prize if you destroy your relationship in the process. And always seek professional help if conflict becomes more than an occasional occurrence.
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