How to Have a Healthy Fight
Fighting Without Destroying the Relationship
Too often in relationships you say you want peace, but find yourself creating war. The old adage, “sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you,” is actually not true, and the memory of those hurtful words can sting for a lifetime. Yet knowing how to fight in a healthy way can bring great benefits, including more intimacy, more self-knowledge, more mutual respect, more trust, and more safe and open communication.
Rules of engagement
1. Know the rules. As in every situation in life, it is important to know the rules. My empathic process teaches you how to fight fairly. That means not to defend yourself, not to make personal insults, not to use abusive language, and to focus on the problem at hand, rather than on personal attacks. By practicing healthy fighting strategies, you will lower your anxiety while discovering what makes your mate tick.
2. Remember: each person gets equal time. Give each partner equal time to talk while intimately and actively listening to one another. Further, never use the information you receive in an argument against one another… what occurs in your fight stays in your fight. No collecting injuries. Also, no ambushing one another with the personal and vital information shared in the safe space of your argument.
3. Pick a neutral location. Have that argument in a neutral place, which becomes your safe space. For example, meet in the kitchen, rather than an office or bedroom, which are places of power and sex.
4. Put your brain in your heart. Put your brain in your heart and use them together to be empathic toward your mate. By confronting a problem, you diminish the power it has over you, and through positive fighting and communication, you lower the decibels of your anxiety immediately. By moving through your heart, you recognize that this is the person you love, right or wrong, and so the goal becomes not about winning, but about solving whatever issue is at hand. This is a positive way to invest one another in your relationship.
5. Acknowledge and validate one another. Constructive fighting and active listening allow you to do both of these things. It is a perfect way to really get to know one another, and most importantly, it is a portal into your partner’s uninhibited feelings during a fight. Fighting reveals your tender areas and helps you discover what violates and causes pain to each of you. As a result, conscious fighting, following the rules of engagement, can invest both of you in the outcome of your disagreement. This is how you build trust, not only for each other but for yourselves. Being counted on to fight fairly creates mutuality and mutuality is the key to a healthy relationship.
6. Remember to show mutual respect. By showing mutual respect for one another, giving each other equal time to talk while actively listening without defense, demonstrates that you can be relied upon, not only for the good times, but for all the times in between… no matter what.
7. Honor boundaries. Boundaries teach individuation, and the good fight which follows a positive structure, helps you recognize and acknowledge your own role without projecting your feelings onto the other. Remember that the pointing finger always has three fingers pointing back. Finally, never play the blame game. It’s a destructive approach that can never lead to a successful resolution.
In the final analysis, healthy fighting is really about learning who you are, and how your partner thinks and feels about all things intimate. There’s never a winner or loser in a healthy fight. You come together as a collaborative because you’re the home team for one another. Winning and losing represents positive and negative aspects of your relationship, but in reality, healthy fighting is more about coming up with a positive solution that has value for both of you, so that something of value is left on the table for both of you. If you get caught up with winners and losers, you can enter the realm of passive-aggression. Then one is always left lacking and one is often inflated. Moreover, arguments that attack one another’s sense of self and well-being are really personal attacks, and those kinds of arguments are destructive and should be avoided. No one can ever change another person. It’s difficult enough to change yourself. The goal is to find a mutual resolution to a difficult and sometimes painful scenario.
At the end of the day, a healthy constructive fight that follows positive rules of engagement can restore intimacy and control to an out of control situation. Move from your heart. It always works.