10 Steps to Clean Fighting With The Person You Love


Ground Rules for Fighting

Every couple fights... but how you fight is a HUGE factor in your likelihood of staying together.

Fight clean, stay together. Fight dirty, not very likely.

There's good, clean fighting and there's dirty, underhanded fighting. I love Ze Frank's rules for a good, clean fight... and so I decided to share them with you:

No hitting, pushing, shoving, or any other kind of physical altercations.

That is bad. Always.

No swearing.

Swearing should be reserved for exclaiming about how large a poop is, or how hot it is on a particular day.

No overarching awful generalizations about a person's character.

Generalizations are generally kind of crappy... things like "You always..." or "You never..." Try to stay focused on the content that started the argument in the first place.

You should realize there are actually 2 arguments going on...

One is a feelings argument, and one is a content-specific argument.

Sometimes when the feelings part of the argument gets very very intense, it's probably best not to stay focused on the content, and just deal with the feelings part. For example: Let's talk about the schedule for who makes the bed later on. Right now, let's focus on why you're getting so angry about it.

Allow yourself when things get crazy-heated to have a timeout.

15 seconds to 15 minutes. No judgements. Just walk away. Calm down. Then get back into it when you can. When we become emotionally flooded, we go into fight or flight mode, and instincts are to either retreat, or attack. We lose touch with our sense of humor, and the ability to be empathetic. Take time to calm down.

Don't threaten to leave just for leverage.

That's a playing card that will lose its value quickly, and sour the relationship quite a bit.

Don't use your partner to fight past battles.

If you find yourself saying things like, "You always make me feel..." and you can trace that feeling to past relationships, well, it might be on you.

Hear what the other person is saying.

Repeat back exactly what the other person said. Sometimes, especially when fighting, we hear things that are not said. Try not to fight with what you think the other person is thinking. Otherwise you're fighting with yourself... which is going to turn into a long fight.

Learn how to apologize quickly and in the moment

Sometimes the wrong thing slips out of your mouth. If you can't think before you speak, at least be thoughtful enough to apologize after you speak.

Use the Intent Sandwich

When you have something difficult to say, start with clarifying the intent. "The reason I'm telling you this is that I care about our relationship, and I love you very much. It might be difficult to hear, but hiding it from you would be more damaging than telling you."

What rules could you adapt into your fighting style?