Want to make your marriage better? Duke it out. It sounds strange but most couples just don’t fight enough. But before you lace up the boxing gloves and climb into the ring with your partner, lay down some ground rules.
First of all, make sure the sparring is done verbally; physical contact should remain in the gym. Do follow the gym’s cardinal rule, though: no hitting below the belt. And make sure the battlegrounds are evenly matched.
A lot of couples will say the goal of a marital fight is to win. But when one person wins, the other loses. If that happens a lot, you might start thinking your partner is a loser, and it’s no fun to find yourself interacting with a loser. That partner might start to resent it, too. And that’s when the trouble really begins.
70 percent of couples who seek counseling could help themselves by just learning to communicate, and to fight in marriage constructively. There is a proper way to fight in marriage. First, identify the problem. Then talk about possible solutions and choose one, try it out and then later determine if it has worked.
This formula works in the business world, but for some reason, in a marriage, the logic goes right out the window. People think they can say anything to their spouses. That’s wrong. If there is a problem, then it is in your best interests to help solve it. The problem-solving stage is where couples get stuck most often.
If a particular conflict-causing instance or event is not isolated, then irrational thought begins to take over. Every other problem the couple has ever had will come into that fight. That’s why some kind of resolution should be found for each problem identified in an argument.
Understanding, forgiveness, or some other resolution is necessary for both parties to feel better. If you can’t manage it right away, promise to talk about the problem again at another time. Otherwise, your anger could get displaced onto other things.
A person might wonder why their mate blew up at the most trivial thing – there’s anger and resentment lingering there. Instead, try sticking to the problem at hand, and talk it over rationally. Don’t “gunnysack,” or keep everything inside; there’s no telling when it will come out.
Be polite. Need to criticize? Keep it quick and simple. Level with your partner. Be open to negotiations. And if a fight doesn’t go quite your way, don’t spend the next several months plotting revenge. If you zap your mate, the next time he or she may zap you even harder.
So often in therapy one partner will sit and list all the mistakes the other makes. Sure, most of us would probably like to send the partner back to the factory for repairs sometimes. The fact is, the one who does the most complaining is often the one who should change.
When marriage fighting becomes a waste of time or too emotionally painful, that’s when professional counseling may be necessary. We’re all blind to our own personality quirks. So sometimes it takes an objective party to point them out.
Self-diagnosis of some marital problems can be dangerous. When symptoms like alcohol or drug abuse, overeating or seeking out affairs become evident, a professional may help determine whether the problems stem from frustrations within the marriage. But for many problems, it helps if done within bounds.
While fighting just to fight can be destructive, marriage fighting with a purpose – whether to get a point across, or to clarify a situation – has its merits. Remember, in fighting with your mate it’s not so important to win all the time as long as your views are heard and respected.