In the first and second sections of this series on fighting the right way in your marriage, we looked at the first five items on our list of ways to make fighting a constructive process, instead of a destructive one. Marital fighting is normal, and can even be healthy for a relationship. The difference, say the experts, between healthy fighting and arguments that land you in divorce court is how you engage your partner during the fight.
In the first segment we discussed no name calling and choosing your words carefully, while in the second piece we addressed listening respectfully, taking cool down time, and focusing on the issue at hand. Moving on we are going to wrap this up with the last three items on the list.
Maintain the peace!
Most happily married couples will tell you that peace is more important that pride, and being happy is more important than being right. That old saying about not going to bed angry really does make a lot of sense. So keep that in mind as your ultimate goal when engaging in battle with your spouse – the desire to resolve the issue to the best of your ability, and then let it go.
If your marriage is truly important to you, then you have to be willing to move on from issues once they have been confronted. This doesn’t mean being a doormat, or accepting the blame for things you didn’t do. It also doesn’t mean letting your partner “win” when they are wrong about something. What it does mean is that when the fight is over, let it go. When the issue has been resolved, don’t dwell on it anymore. Focus on resolving the problem and then move on. Don’t harbor resentment, and don’t bring it up again next time you argue. Peace is critical to marital happiness.
One of the fastest ways to resolve an issue is to look for areas where you can work together on the solution. Ask for, or suggest to your spouse, areas that could be worked on by both of you. Look for possibilities for collaboration. Whenever possible, work towards compromise. As soon as you are looking for ways to work together on solving something, the fight is essentially over.
It may be difficult in the moment, but it is important to put aside your pride and your desire to be right, and focus on how the problem you are facing can be solved. When you go after the issue, (as opposed to going after one another) you are far more likely to resolve the problem productively, and with a minimum of lasting damage to the relationship.
Focus on the issue at hand!
It’s easy, when you’re fighting, to start dragging up all sorts of old problems and unresolved issues from the past. Digging up old grievances to fling in your spouse’s face can help you justify your position. But roaming further and further from the topic at hand will only make the argument spiral out of control. Like the conflict zombies, dug up from their graves and reanimated for your argument, unresolved issues make a bad situation even more unpleasant.
So stick to the issue at hand. Focus on the subject you two are arguing about, and don’t bring up other, unrelated problems until you have dealt with this one. This will keep the argument succinct and much briefer. Also, it will allow you to address the issue like adults, and not start flinging insults like angry children. This will mean a much faster resolution and a lot less emotional fall out along the way.
We hope these suggestions were helpful, and that you and your spouse are able to have healthier, shorter, more productive arguments in the future. However, healthy productive arguments take two people to abide by the rules. If you still can’t find a way to work it out, or your spouse refuses to fight fairly no matter how hard you try, we are here for you. Call 517 886 1000 to talk to one of our experienced family law attorneys.