In this blog series, I’m giving you a “sneak peek” into my “Reader Mailbag” – sharing actual questions I’ve received from (and answers I’ve shared with) folks who struggle over “Real Relationship” issues – just like you and me!
I hope the series is both eye-opening and edifying! And if YOU have a question you’d like to see answered, send it our way! You can email me directly at email@example.com
“My husband accuses me of not fighting fair and using ‘drama queen’ tactics. I am better at arguing than him, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing. How can I level the playing field when we disagree so that he doesn’t get so wounded and mad at me?”
My husband once declared in the midst of a heated debate, “Shannon, you’d make a great lawyer!” It wasn’t a compliment. Sadly, he recognized that winning was more important to me than understanding his feelings.
Learning to fight fair is one of the best ways we can show respect for each other.
The goal of any disagreements should be to understand one another’s feelings and strive toward an amiable compromise. With that goal in mind, let’s consider…
10 Below-the-belt Tactics to Avoid:
- Dragging friends and family into the argument
- The silent treatment
- Yelling or crying
- Unconstructive criticism
- Threats and ultimatums
- Getting defensive
- Using buzz words (such as “always, never, hate, divorce”)
- Expecting him to read your mind.
- _______ (fill in the blank with your own below-the-belt tactic!)
Simply removing these from your argument arsenal will go a long way toward leveling that playing field, but let’s talk about establishing some productive ground rules for fairer fights:
- Establish a proper time and place to hash things out, then limit the discussion to one topic rather than dredging up old issues.
- Express emotions calmly. Better to simply say, “I felt angry when you did this” than to rip his head off and scream down his neck.
- Validate his feelings. He has a right to them, just as you have a right to yours. Rather than responding, “I can’t believe you feel that way!” consider, “I may not understand your pain completely, but I’m very sorry I caused it.”
- Remember that a winner doesn’t need to emerge from every disagreement. With unity as your main goal, agree to disagree when necessary without letting it dampen the relationship.
- Use preventative measures. Occasionally ask, “Have I done anything lately that wounded you?” or offer, “I need to forgive you for something I took offense to.” Keeping a short list of accounts rather than letting issues pile up is key.
I also like Randy Fujishin’s formula for constructive conflict resolution – to cut each other some “SLACK,” which stands for: Sit, Listen, Ask, Compromise, Kiss. In other words, communicate calmly, seek to understand, strive toward unity, and come out intimately connected. Then you’ll remain Mrs. Right in his eyes rather than Mrs. Always-has-to-be-Right!
Every Woman’s Marriage by Shannon & Greg Ethridge (click here to order)
The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlessinger (HarperCollins)
Gifts from the Heart: 10 Communication Skills for Developing More Loving Relationships by Randy Fujishin (Acada Books)