Contributed by Leo R.

Fighting is part of every relationship.  We would all like to think we can hold hands and skip through daises every day, but the reality is life can be stressful and your partner may have some habits that annoy you and make you want to pull your hair out.  But fighting does not have to be horrible, it can be done in a healthy way.

Ingredient 1 – Acknowledgement.  I started with the hardest one first. If your partner constantly tells you that you are not expressing yourself it might be because you are not expressing yourself.  Ask them what they mean rather than immediately defending yourself which leaves the other feeling unheard and escalates the fight. Bring a constructive attitude and you might learn something about yourself that were completely unaware of.  I discovered that I tend to leave things up to others (including my partner) without giving my opinion and then disagree with the actions they took. I would never have realized that if I had not decided to listen constructively rather than hear my partner’s words as criticism.

Ingredient 2 – Take a break.  I know I can get pretty riled up to the point of screaming when I argue. So, one day I decided to tell my partner (when we weren’t arguing) that when I get unreasonably upset sometimes, I need to take a break. It doesn’t mean I am leaving the conversation, it just means I need to calm down.  The next time we fought, I said I am taking my break and left the room.  When I came back we were both more relaxed and I could calmly address the issue we were “discussing.”

Ingredient 3 – Ban these words from the fight: Always, Never, But.  No one always does something or never does something.  They are just doing it too much or too little for your liking.  Using these words negates the times they are doing things right.  You need to acknowledge these times and realize that change is a slow process.  The word “but” also negates whatever is said before it. For example, I understand what you are saying but…” might translate to “I don’t care what you are saying because my needs are more important.”  Resist the urge to make blanket statements or dismiss the other person in your desire to hammer your point home!

What healthy fighting tips help you resolve conflicts?  We invite you to share your ideas in the box below.