Everything is fair in love and war.
Fighting fair works beautifully when you’re courting – your partner tends to be more accepting of your drawbacks, more open to forgiving and more open to seeing the complete picture. You’re keen to be together and portray yourself as the ideal partner.
Fighting fair is equally important after marriage but it does call for a certain amount of discretion and prudence. You’ve been together for a while now and everyday reality has ensured that you no longer feel the need to be the ‘ideal’ partner. Now the mantra is ‘accept me as I am!’
Differences are natural – there can be no marriage without differences. Conflict and confusion arise out of the pressure of living with someone you love dearly but who sometimes appears unreasonable! It is acceptable to argue and voicing differences is a wonderful way to understand each other. Fighting fair helps to build a sense of comfort and trust.
But, what is a ‘fair fight?’
– Dealing only with the issue at hand and not bringing up past wrongs. Avoid generalisations.
Well, that’s a tough one. Our emotions and its responses are built on layers of interactions and it’s difficult to pick and choose when you’re upset! But sometimes, it’s good to ascertain the situation and its relevance first. Every argument cannot be fought with equal intensity and you’ll realise that it’s mostly unnecessary to do so. You ‘always’ and you ‘never’ kind of statements makes your partner defensive and the argument tangentially moves to a different plane – which isn’t the intention so avoid.
– No name calling and insults.
The point of the argument is to solve something, not to win. If something is bothering you, then it’s also bothering your partner. The reasons might be different, your expressions might be different, your mode of solving it might be different, but at the end of the day, you’re in this together so you have to solve it together. Name calling only leads to hurting the one person who matters to you the most.
– Feel your feelings
State what is upsetting you with honesty and openness. You owe it to yourself to make your partner realise what about the situation makes you ‘feel’ bad or is disturbing. But be careful though about ‘how’ you express it – if your partners’ statement made you miserable, and you express it in a similar manner, it will make your partner feel miserable too. Unless you ‘want’ to hurt them, do remember that is not the intention.
– Take personal responsibility. Open your mind.
It’s good to reflect on your contribution to bringing about a situation that upsets you. Rarely, if ever a partner is exempt from contributing to it in some way. Open your mind about a different interpretation to a situation or response. If you don’t then you’ll continue to be in a rut and progressively dig deeper with every conflict. Soon your partner will just assume your reaction and ignore its impact on you and the relationship.
– Remember you care.
Your partner is ‘not’ you so accept this fact. Learn to empathise with their point of view. Guard against the belief that you are having difficulty with your partner. It’s more likely that your relationship, that is made up of different interactions, emotions, facets of your lives ‘together’ needs a change of attitude. There is more to your partner and your relationship than this one argument, issue or difference.
– Resolve it!
Do this as soon as you feel the first signs of thawing. Make the first move – don’t fret or let your ego take precedence. You’re in this together, it’s an equal partnership, he matters to you as much as you matter to him. How does it matter who makes the first move? How important is it? How long are you willing to carry the burden? Will you be less miserable if you carry on the fight for another day waiting for your partner to initiate the making up process? Apologise and move on – accept that you had a role to play in the fight too.
After all, making up can be ‘expressed’ as passionately, so go ahead and have fun!