How to Fight Right

Fighting is one to one.  It isn’t just about wining; it is about being heard.  Psychotherapist and Life Coach Didi Zahariades joined us to help us fight right. She says, "If you are trying to get your point across so loud, you cannot hear the other person then it is time to engage differently." She offers these tips to help resolve conflict successfully:. 

  1. Winning Isn’t Everything. First step in learning to fight right is that if you win; your partner will lose.  Do you want to be with a loser?  This is a serious question.  If you are in the pattern of always winning then every time you make your partner feel like a loser, a small bit of her (or him) becomes less than.  This is a fighting style which will wreck and ruin even the longest relationship. Very few people want to feel like a failure.  This type of fighting will be the demise of your relationship.  A mature relationship maneuvers ‘the wins’ & ‘the loses’ with knowledge that relationships are tough.  These are the “ups & downs” as opposed to seeing everything as grandiose with statements like: “We always fight.” Or “I’m always wrong.” You may be the winner of the argument but it may be at the expense of losing the love of your life. 
  2. Be Present. Don’t Multi-task. If you want to resolve conflict; it must be one to one.  You must show up.  You have to put down the phone.  Turn off the computer.  Walk away from the TV.  Get eye contact.  Look at your partner.  It is much harder to say awful, horrible things to your partner when you are looking into her eyes.  Consider it a fight:  You have to get into the boxing ring. If you are present, you are more likely to reach a resolve.  When you are multi-tasking, texting, responding to an email and responding to your partner, you are more likely to say something you will regret.  It may be what you are feeling, but it will more than likely not be what you wanted to say out loud. If you can’t shut down and focus, then wait and discuss it later.  Make the other person your priority.  Choose to be Present.
  3. What are you fighting about?  … Do You Know? …Check In. You may be fighting about the dishes in the dishwasher, or whose turn it is to start the laundry; when in reality it was upsetting that he ignored you at the party last night!  If you are mad about something talk about it.  Be cautious about holding back your emotions, they will come out! It may begin that you don’t feel appreciated and if you don’t discuss it with your partner this emotion will transition and you won’t control what it will become!  Most likely it will be a building block from sadness or hurt into anger.  This is where you argue and suddenly have no idea what you are even fighting about.  Literally, in the midst of your argument, check in!  Ask your partner, what are you really mad about? If you think you can hold back your emotions, you cannot.  They will build a wall so high that your partner will not be able to get over the wall to reach you.
  4. “What do you need right now?”   Empathy is Powerful. Often being heard is the most powerful piece of an argument.  Your mate may very well need you to listen, not fix.  Take the time to ask, “What do you need right now?” Then listen to the answer without jumping in with your own issue, problem, answer or snarky comment.  This is when you may need to wait for your partner to answer.  Being a solution provider is sexy and attractive, but empathy is life changing.  When your partner shows empathy it is powerful and life changing.  If you are with a person incapable of empathy, then you have a much larger relationship issue. 
  5. Push Pause Regardless of the argument, you can always push the pause-button.  This is when you feel too attacked, it is too much, there is something else going on, others are in the room, etc.  In all arguments, a strong healthy relationship can always press the pause button. This is a simple way to check in on the health of your relationship.  Is your partner able to put his/her ego on check long enough to press pause when necessary?  The answer needs to be Yes. If this isn’t an option, then there is an anger management issue which is a one-person problem, not a couple-problem.

For more information, including details on Didi's new book, The Confident Woman, visit her website.

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