Let's Talk About Fighting Fair...
Hello my loves!
Today has been busy busy busy. Some of you know this, but I don't observe the Sabbath on Sundays. Because my husband works every other weekend, we usually take the Sabbath on a day he has off every single week, which for this shift-bid, is Tuesday. So I celebrate the Sabbath on Tuesdays, and reserve all my rest, relaxation, and "chill-time" for then.
Sundays are an entirely different story altogether. Today has been full of church and social engagements, cleaning our rental house, and cleaning our ACTUAL house. Today I've changed the sheets on six beds, folded three baskets of laundry, and vacuumed seven rugs. It's been dishes, laundry, driving, and a whole lot of running around trying to get everything done... including this very blog post.
Honestly... I'm kind of stressed.
When I'm stressed, I tend to have a shorter temper, attention span, and patience for anything inefficient. I'm low on compliments and even lower on affection.
Naturally, this state of mind has lead to a few disagreements and arguments between my husband and I today. Now, our arguments were pretty boring: instead of passionately fighting about romance, jealousy, or sex, we were disagreeing about our rental property, cleaning efficiency, and the investment funds into the rental... sexy I know.
So in honor of the stress, disagreements, and frizzle-frazzle from today, I thought I would write about a related topic: marital arguments and fighting fair. How can we gracefully enter and exit the inevitable arguments of marriage? How can we fight and remain close with our loved ones? How can we disagree and still show affection? Is it even possible?
Well, I'm no queen of arguments, classy fighting, or knowing how to remain calm, but my husband has definitely shown me the ropes of "fighting fair." To tell you the truth, I didn't grow up in a family that fought fair: our style was passive aggression, raised voices, and tons of hurt feelings. It can often be difficult to overcome the patterns we learn as children, but I have made a ton of headway throughout our relationship in the area of "fighting fair" because of my patient husband.
He was raised in a conflict-positive home, and has shown me how to fight fair, by following these guidelines:
1. Take your time
There is no need to speed through a disagreement. In fact, we should take as much time as we need so that we can lower stress as much as possible. Rushing in and out of sentences, emotions, and topics during an argument can add to the overall stress, conflict, and friction.
When we rush to make a point or show our disagreement, we can often escalate the situation and cause unnecessary damage to the other person's feelings. It can be tempting to rush through an argument to get it over as soon as possible, or to try to "win" it as soon as possible, but it's truly not worth it.
Everyone should have the time they need to work through their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives. I like to pause as much as possible to think through my words, and I will even ask to leave and take time to think before continuing the disagreement, just to give myself even more time to process. Don't rush through conflict, especially in marriage. Conflict is very delicate and should be treated seriously. Take serious time to deal with it, and don't sweep it away.
2. Keep your emotions contained
I absolutely HATE conflict, so when I'm involved in an argument, I'm already in a highly stressed emotional state, and it can be SO difficult to remain calm. But I have found that the more you stay steady and clear-minded during an argument, the easier it is to share your point logically, and even understand the other person's perspective.
Staying calm doesn't mean you cannot express anger or frustration, but it will drastically mitigate the amount of frustration and hurt you dole out onto the other person, and subsequently... your future relationship. Keep those emotions in check by taking regular pauses to breathe, and to look at the person through eyes of love. Stay peaceful and do exercises of counting to ten and staying relaxed.
3. Stand your ground when necessary
It can be tempting as a feminine woman to take the "meek" direction and fail to stand up for yourself. This method can be especially attractive when we feel like we are disagreeing with someone who has authority over us, like our parents or a boss. But the truth is that disagreeing with someone is NOT wrong, and we don't always need to roll over. Rolling over might feel good in the moment, but it can often lead to much greater problems in the future.
Sometimes your gut is telling you to push back and disagree with someone because it's the right thing to do. Don't let your distaste of conflict keep you from standing up for what's right. It's not wrong to have differing perspectives and viewpoints: it's all about how you EXPRESS those viewpoints.
Don't let someone intimidate you into silence if you truly feel you need to speak up about something. Likewise, do not BE the intimidator. Stand your ground when necessary, but be aware of when you are dominating the other person out of malice, rather than out of love.
4. Always, always, always flip the narrative in your mind
This is so hard to do, but I like to pause during an argument and think about the situation from the other person's perspective. I like to think "what is their motivation right now?" And if I don't know their motivation, I like to ask them about it.
Sometimes it's easy to assume that people are disagreeing with us just to be difficult or hurt us, when really, there is something much deeper going on. Never feel weird asking for more details on why someone wants something differing to your opinion, and always share your motivation and perspective as well. Consider everything from their point of view, and be very generous to their character: oftentimes people are much nicer than we make them out to be.
5. Clear the communication
Don't view arguments or disagreements as chasms: view them as opportunities to clean house a little bit. Imagine the conflict as a sink full of dirty dishes: it can be cleared up, but you're going to need to take some time and energy. Methodically clean up your disagreement and wash away the confusion, hurt, and conflict.
Begin methodically resolving things and working towards an agreement or compromise. Just as you won't walk away until the sink is empty, try not to walk away until all the conflict has been cleared up. Also, side note: make sure you both know what you are actually disagreeing about. Sometimes, you might be on the same page as the other person, and not realize that you're arguing similar points.
6. Admit when you're wrong and apologize
This can be SO HARD! But the truth is that we all have to eat humble-pie every once in awhile. I think many of us fear apologizing because we don't want the other person to rub it in our face, OR refuse to accept our apology. Hopefully you're apologizing to a mature person who can gracefully forgive you and move forward, but regardless, it's always good to do the right thing and admit when you're wrong.
Also, never forget to actually pause and figure out if you are wrong in the middle of your disagreement. Always consider that might be a possibility! No one can be right all the time, and if you feel like you HAVE to be right all the time for the sake of your pride, reconsider your habits and thought-patterns, because that's not healthy.
7. Plan a nice activity after everything is resolved
When you DO resolve your disagreement, especially in a marriage, it's probably a good idea to reset your pair-bond. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure that you don't end the argument or disagreement without some sort of reconciliation activity.
If you're married, this could be sex, eating a meal together, or just having fun together in some way. Even for friendships or parent-child relationships, doing an activity like eating food, watching a movie together, or just spending time together can be a good way to reset your relationship after some conflict. Resolving conflict usually releases some positive hormones in our minds, so take advantage of those good feelings and have some fun together!
Alright my loves! Thank you for reading. I need to say that throughout my time writing this post, I have actually felt my blood pressure lower, and my brain return to a calmer state of being. I'm ready to destress and enjoy the rest of the day, but first I have to go apologize to my husband for not being more supportive about our rental property. I know, I know: our arguments are quite boring.
I hope you enjoy your day my friends, and wish me luck as I go eat some humble-pie LOL!