Some styles of fighting are so destructive that over time they can cause the kind of damage and pain that can ultimately destroy the marriage or relationship. Read on and discover the five very destructive mistakes couples make when they fight and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1 — Starting harshly. Some partners begin the “discussion” angry and are volatile from the outset and begin with blaming and anger directed at their spouse. This is more likely to make your partner shut down from the get go. Or, your partner may return your fire with both barrels. Either way, you won’t accomplish anything.
Tip #1 — Make an appointment. Start off reasonably stating you have something to talk about and ask if now is a good time. If the answer is no ask when you can talk about it. Then, when you do stay calm.
Mistake #2 — Character assassination. Often individuals criticize their partner’s character rather than the specific behavior. No one likes to have their character assassinated and naturally, people are less likely to be able to or want to hear what you have to say.
Tip #2 — Criticize the behavior not the person. For example, “I am so irritated you didn’t take out the trash last night like you said you would. Now we have ants,” rather than “You are so lazy. You never do anything.”
Mistake #3 — Getting belligerent and name calling. This is never productive and is very damaging. When this happens couples usually feel emotionally wrung out and more wounded.
Tip #3 — Take a time-out. If either one of you starts to feel too heated up, before the discussion escalates, take a time out. Agree to at least 20 minutes — more if you need it — and agree upon a time to resume BEFORE you take the break.
Mistake #4 — Defensiveness. It’s hard not to get defensive when our partner is complaining about something we’ve done. However, defensiveness is another way of dismissing what your partner has to say. Also, getting defensive means that your partner is going to say the same thing only with different words and louder,
Tip #4 — Listen nondefensively. Take a few deep breaths and center yourself. Remind yourself to stay calm and give your partner the gift of really listening. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. This is really the only way to move forward on an issue and not feel you are spinning your wheels.
Mistake #5 — Throwing in the kitchen sink. It is tempting to bring up the past transgressions or current but unrelated issues. This is NEVER PRODUCTIVE and will only derail any chance you have of resolving the issue before you.
Tip #5 — Stay focused. Discuss only one issue at a time. Stay away from the past and on the present situation and stay focused on the specific behavior.
I’d like to invite you to use these tips on avoiding destructive fights and beginning to build a happier, healthier more loving relationship!