My last blog considered that married couples WILL fight, showed that we all can have positive or negative fighting styles, and uncovered the essence of a BAD fight- PRIDE. I think it is imperative to figure out how to stop having bad fights and start having good ones. The Parrots, in their book The Good Fight, list four key elements of a good fight. They used the acronym CORE.
The Parrots write: “a study reported in Psychological Science discovered that, when it comes to couples, the best arguers are those who work in tandem with their partner. According to the study, the person who says ’We’ the most during an argument suggests the best solutions.” Those who say “you” more tend to be more negative. The conclusion of the study was that “’We’ users may have a sense of shared interest that sparks compromise and other ideas pleasing to both partners. ’You’-sayers, on the contrary, tend to criticize, disagree, justify, and otherwise team with negativity.”
Conflict is often caused by blaming the other person. We say things like: “We wouldn’t be in this mess if you knew how to manage our money.” Or “You’re the one who’s angry! Not me.” And “If you were ever on time, we wouldn’t have missed dinner.” The Parrots point out that, “when we blame our spouse (or anything else), we shift responsibility. We think our fancy footwork puts us in the clear.” But when it comes down to it, “the blame game is for cowards. Ownership takes courage. It takes mettle not to be a victim. Shifting blame immediately makes you powerless. But when you take ownership for your piece of the conflict pie, you’re instantly empowered to find a solution together.” Instead, you say things like, “It’s unfair for me to think you could balance the books with the week you’ve had.” Or “I admit that I’m feeling angry here, and I don’t know what to do.” And “I didn’t think about the traffic when I scheduled the dinner. That was a mistake. These are the words of ownership. They drive blame back to its corner.”
The Parrots state that, “Good fighters steer clear of belittling.” They also point out that, “Everyone needs respect. We can’t have a relationship without it. An attitude of respect builds a bridge of trust between husband and wife even when they are feeling at odds. Respect does more than curb contentment, however. It helps us to listen before speaking. It drives us to understand before passing judgment.”
The Parrots noted that “Good fighters step into each other’s shoes.” They ask if you’ve ever said anything like this:
· “I simply don’t understand him”
· “I have no idea what would make her happy”
· “We’ll just be talking, and he blows up for no reason”
· “I don’t understand why she keeps bringing this up”
If so, they note, “Each statement reveals a lack of understanding, a lack of empathy…if you want to instantly and dramatically increase the odds of experiencing a good fight, you may only need to put the single core quality of empathy into practice. Why? Because research shows that 90 percent of marital spats can be resolved if all the couple does is accurately see the issue from each other’s perspective. Don’t miss this point: nine times out of ten, conflicts are resolved when couples step into each other’s shoes.
So follow these CORE steps to start having good fights. It would be wonderful to never fight, but since conflict is inevitable, try these tips.
Another way to learn how to manage conflict along with lots of other things to strengthen your marriage is to join us in September for our Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work Class. You can find more info at my website www.buildinglastinlove.com
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