Tips for fair fighting for couples
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Ulrike Adeneuer-Chima
19th March, 20140 Comments
Fighting is often associated with bullying, violence and abuse. By following my tips about how to have a fair fight, you can experience the absence of bullying, violence and abuse and might be able to agree on a compromise afterwards.
When people fight, they mobilise a lot of energy in order to support an issue that is important to them. Most people, who get angry at each other, have an investment in relating to the other. Anger is often a signal that the person wants to change something that matters to them.
I teach couples to express anger by referring to a specific behaviour that has upset them and not to generalise their anger to the other persons whole being (which is often the case in abuse). If you can learn to express your anger clearly and directly and be as specific as possible, you have a better chance to be fully received and attended to by your partner.
In any way you can’t go wrong if you follow these steps:
Specify the issue: agree what the specific issue is that you are angry about and stick to the issue in the course of a fight.
Choose a mutually suitable time that suits you both and when you have enough time to deal with the issue
Choose a suitable room that is private, where you know that you will not be disturbed or disturb anyone else. Avoid your bedroom for fair fighting.
Listen to each other: shouting at each other is not satisfying and will not lead to a successful outcome
Do not drag in the past: stick to the particular issue that is the subject of the fight.
Express anger but do not resort to abuse. Physical violence, blame or name calling. Blame and abusive labelling are discounting of the other person and unlikely to keep the fight clean. In fact an agreement to not harm the other, yourself or the environment is a good starting point.
Agree to stop if either of you feels that the fight is no longer clean and fair and related to the specific issue that you have agreed upon in the beginning.
Agree to allow each other to differ. Having a good clean fight does not mean that you have to end up agreeing.
At the end, agree to discuss a compromise. When people have voiced their anger, and the other has listened to their concerns, they are often more ready to work out a realistic compromise.
These tips are taken from the following book: Brief Therapy With Couples, An integrative Approach by Maria Gilbert and Diana Shmukler.
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