Here’s the thing: He doesn’t have to stay. Neither do you. No one does. Relationships are always voluntary, and people tend to stop volunteering when it gets too hard, too complicated, too full of tension and anger. That’s why conflict resolution and fighting fair are so important. You can’t completely get rid of the problems that arise, but you can handle them in such a way that you don’t end your marriage.
#1. Resolve Conflict by Ditching Entitlement
At work, do you say and do whatever pops into your mind? Probably not, because you want to keep your job and know that saying or doing the wrong thing could result in your being fired. You know your boss doesn’t owe you a position. You have to earn it. Couples should think in the same way. Just because your husband loves you doesn’t mean he should have to put up with your verbal attacks. Just because your wife loves you doesn’t mean she should have to look past your outright disrespect.
Sometimes, we women can overstep our boundaries. We think we have the right to have big attitudes because, “He’s a man. He can take it.” You’re right. He can take it, but why should he? And who wants to live like that? Wouldn’t it make sense to find someone who wasn’t going to make his life miserable just because she thinks she has the right to? Men, too, can overstep boundaries. They get comfortable and think, “She ain’t going nowhere.” Well, if she’s smart, she will go somewhere. She’ll find a man who appreciates her and shows her just how much he does. If you know you’ve got a good mate, treat them like you want to keep them.
#2. Resolve Conflict by Being Aware of Your Feelings
The key to fighting fair is avoiding “low blows.” The only way to do that is to have a heightened sense of awareness during an argument. Many people do the opposite. They allow their anger to send them into a blind rage. You never know what’s going to come out then. There is no filter, no awareness. Just pure, unstable emotion. That’s why you said that hurtful comment you now regret. That’s why the situation never seems to improve no matter how many times you fight over it.
When you’re aware of exactly how upset you are and how it can affect you, it’s easier the pull yourself back from the edge. Take a deep breath. Sit down. Tell your mate you need some time to calm down. Whatever it takes to keep that filter from flying off and crashing up against the wall. If you are used to letting your anger choose your words, increasing your self-awareness will be hard. It will feel unnatural and forced, but the result it will have on your relationship is worth the effort.
#3. Resolve Conflict by Focusing on the Final Goal
At the moment, your goal is to find a resolution to the problem at hand (or maybe it is to get your holes filled), but what is the ultimate goal, the one that matters above all else? Hopefully you answered, “to be happily married.” Isn’t that what we all want, to be able to look at the person we’ve chosen and be happy with that choice? That goal should dictate the way you argue. Are you working toward peace and happiness or toward more tension and anger? Look back on how you’ve handled yourself in past arguments to find the answer to that question.
“But I’m just so angry. He’s not listening to me. He never does!” you yell at the computer screen. Ok, that’s a problem, a considerable one, but remember your goal. Even if you are unsure about if you want to stay married, assume that you do for the moment. (That’s not the type of decision you want to make based on emotion.) Tell him you feel he doesn’t take your wishes and concerns seriously, and tell him what you’d like him to do about it. You’re guaranteed to get better results than if you just yell at him and storm out of the room.
Here are some examples of what you should and shouldn’t say. (Yes, I’m giving you a script. I want this to be as easy as possible.)
- You shouldn’t say something like, “You never listen to me. It’s like you don’t even love me! I don’t need this @%$#!” That’s too vague (and dramatic) and it offers no solution.
- You should say something like, “When you (________), it makes me feel like you aren’t listening to me and it upsets me. I’d really appreciate it if you (_________).” That is to the point and it makes it very clear what the problem is and how it can be fixed.
#4. Loosen the Heck Up!
Sometimes when things are rocky, you get in such a funk that you become determined to be upset and grumpy. It’s like you write it down on a subconscious agenda. In these cases, it doesn’t take much to get you going. Your mate can do one small thing and you’re ready to break out the claws. Chill out. It’s not that serious, I promise. The happiest couples are ones who are able to handle their issues effectively. No grudges. No drama. This has been proven time and time again.