All couples have different ways of communicating when they disagree. Some yell at each other. Others bicker. Some give the “silent treatment.” Still, other couples just don’t engage which kicks-the-can farther down the road (to be dealt with eventually). Too often, conflicts become a contest of wills to see who is right and who is wrong. They bring up old wounds and tear at insecurities all in the name of winning.
But, here is the flip side—happily married couples have arguments. Yes, happy marriages can even have full-on fights. It’s important to note that couples have different styles of conflict. No one style is better than another, but the style has to work for both people in the relationship. If one wants to talk it through logically and the other wants to scream, retreat, and watch the playoffs, there’s going to be more friction. In the strongest marriages, couples support each other’s hopes and aspirations and build a sense of purpose in their lives together. And, no matter how they fight, they fight fair.
When a marriage fails to do this—to support, nurture and grow—the relationship devolves into useless realms of arguments driven by their egos. This leads to isolation which can then lead to pain, sadness, loneliness, and sometimes the demise of the marriage.
Disagreements are rooted in fundamental differences. It’s important to understand what’s causing the conflict. If you don’t understand the cause of the conflict (and in the heat of the moment, we usually don’t), always honor and respect each other as you discover the cause.
UNDERSTAND YOUR ANGER
Before a fight goes too far, ask yourself these questions:
- What is the ultimate outcome that I wish to achieve?
- Is it to feel empowered?
- Is it to feel heard?
- Is it to get respect?
- Is it to let that person know how incredibly angry I am?
- Is my anger, whether it’s in rage or in silence, going to get me the outcome I desire?
ESTABLISH YOUR RULES OF ARGUMENT ENGAGEMENT
All couples need to establish their “Rules of Engagement.” You need to make up rules together. Sit down and decide how you are going to fight. Seriously, talk it out! There is one cardinal rule which should always be honored during an argument, and that is to never “hit below the belt.” In other words…aim to be heard and not to hurt.
Words have power. Once unleashed, they can be a verbal dagger through the heart. Maybe the wound will heal, but the scar is a constant reminder of what was said. Over time, those angry words can damage what Kabbalists call the “oneness of marriage’s union.” The more positive things we do and say, both to and about each other, the more positive the outcome.
BOTTOM LINE: MAKE CHOICES TOGETHER
The minute you no longer treat each other with dignity, respect, and love is the moment the oneness, trust, and intimacy between you becomes at risk and is shattered. Think about it. On the one hand, you’re supposed to be intimate and be the closest to this person. On the other hand, you say the most incredibly hurtful things because you know their vulnerabilities. You have to make the decision that there are some places you should never go and some things that should never be said; and, you need to make that choice together.
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