Yes, I did say that. And yes, I mean it. Many of us are conflict avoiders. We believe the key to a healthy and happy relationship is harmony. While harmony is important, it’s not everything. Sometimes you need to fight. The key, of course, is to fight fair.
1) Know your goal. What is it that you are trying to get out of this situation? Are your intentions healthy?
2) Know your conflict style. Are you the pursuer or the withdrawer? Do you need to hash things out right away? Or do you need alone time to process your thoughts and feelings?
3) Set boundaries. This can be a time limit, a distance maintained, etc. (Example: If one person needs time to process before returning to the issue, set a time limit. For one hour, that person gets time to process, and the other person must respect this space. When the hour is up, both parties must come back to the issue).
4) Don’t involve other people in inappropriate ways. Do not vent about your partner on Facebook. Do not call your mother and complain. Deal directly with the person with whom you have conflict.
5) Pick your battles. Yes, your husband leaves his socks everywhere. Yes it’s annoying. But is it really worth blowing up over? Learn to live with some things, and only take a stand on the things that are most important to you.
6) Understand your emotions. When you feel something, take a moment and assess. What are you feeling? What was it that triggered this feeling? Emotions are neutral. They are normal, and they just happen. It is how you choose to act out of these emotions that really makes a difference.
7) Be kind. Remember, you love this person. You don’t really want to hurt them (though sometimes it feels like you do). Don’t say things out of spite or anger. This only causes more pain, and brings you no closer to resolving the issue.
8) Own your issues. If you are having an off day, say it. Your partner is not a mind reader. They need to know when outside influences are affecting you.
9) Be honest. It will do you no good to lie, or beat around the bush. Speak from your heart, and speak with love. It may sting, but it won’t hurt half as much as learning the truth on top of the lie later on.
10) Listen. This sounds easy, but it’s much harder than you might think. Really listen. Shut up, hear the words your partner is saying, repeat the message so they know you understood them clearly, and process what they said BEFORE you respond.
11) Finally, apologize. You are not perfect, and you never will be. Relationships take work. Humble yourself, and let go of your pride. You will earn more respect from your partner, and have more respect for yourself.
Learn from your fights, friends. They can make or break a relationship. Draw together or push apart with every word. We all want to be successful in our relationships. This begins with learning how to fight fair, and how to deal with conflict in a healthy way. Good luck!