Fighting with our partners does not have to be without purpose. Arguments are in themselves another form of communication. Here are a few rules to help manage and deescalate conflict while practicing effective communication. Here’s a small tip, have a print out of the rules on the fridge as a quick reference.
Rule #1: NO DEGRADING LANGUAGE
Avoid name calling, insults, put-downs or swearing
Rule #2: NO BLAMING
It is pointless to blame each other. Blaming your spouse distracts you from solving the problem at hand. It invites your spouse to be defensive and it escalates the argument.
Rule #3: NO YELLING
If it feels like yelling to your spouse, it probably is. Make a conscious effort to lower your voice.
Rule #4: NO USE OF FORCE
Including pushing, shoving, grabbing, hitting, punching, slapping, restraining, damaging property, and throwing/breaking things. Each of us has a right to be safe and free of abuse.
Rule #5: NO TALK OF DIVORCE
In the heat of an argument, threatening to leave the relationship is manipulative and hurtful. It makes the problems in your relationship seems much bigger than they need to be.
Rule #6: DEFINE YOURSELF, NOT YOUR SPOUSE
Use words that describe how you feel, what you want and what is important to you- not what your partner feels, wants, or believes. When this happens…, I feel…, I would like instead…,
Rule #7: STAY IN THE PRESENT
Keep your focus on what can be done today to resolve the issue at hand and go forward.
Rule #8: TAKE TURNS SPEAKING
Let one person speak at a time. When one speaks, the other should be listening, really listening, and not just planning their rebuttal. Take turns speaking and listening so that you both have a chance to say what you need.
Rule #9: WHEN NECESSARY, COOL OFF
Remember: No amount of talking will lead to problem-solving if you are not in a state of mind for solving problems, but never walk away without naming a follow up time.
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