Respect your loved one while fighting?

Time ago, I saw this interesting piece of information: Dr Gottman's study on married couples explained how it is possible to predict if they will stay married or divorce. How is this possible? Watch the first five minutes of a conflict between the sides of the couple, and you can know in 95% of the cases, if they got a chance to stay married!

What is this powerful indicator that Dr. Gottman was focusing on? The communication styles of both sides, when the fight begins. There are four very definite conflict moves that will tell if you if they know how to fight fair, or if they are going for the yugular, as in other street conflict you can have. There is a fine line between constructive conflict and destructive one...and here it is crossed early on.

Yes, the first sorry mistake is to forget that you are fighting with the person you love, and begin fighting as if your loved one is an enemy to destroy. What kind of satisfaction will you obtain if you win the piddly battle now but lose the war and end up losing your spouse in the long run?

Looks silly to respond that you want to "win", but that is what most people do. Let's see how do they fight:

The Nasty Fight has four elements:

a) Begin critizing the other person immediately, about something real or about something you've imagined that the person did. It doesn't matter if it is real, the effect is get the other person feeling critized in a very real way;
b) Defend yourself immediately, and don't consider if the other person has said something true. To protect yourself is the first duty, and doing that reject any opening to share responsibility or worry by listening.
c) Even better, do the total silence/stonewalling answer. You withdraw from the conversation, deny that you have something to do, and block the communication lines between your spouse and you. 85% of the stonewallers were men, by the way, in Gottman's study.
d) Contemp is the last move you can do to destroy your partner's trust on you. You are the superior one, and look at her as from the high levels of your better judgement. She has to appear small, insignificant and silly...help convey this meaning doing some put-downs, correct her ideas or language, make fun of some ideas and laugh at loud at such silliness.

Did you see yourself in some of these behaviors? Are they your first answer when you feel like cornered by circumstances too difficult to accept? And now, are you a bit scared of the price you will pay for this conflict creating behavior?

Well, it's not so difficult to change and learn to have more positive confrontations. Begin by using phrases like these ones when asking:

"Can you tell me more about what worries you? I'm here to listen;"
" and you were hurt by my behavior? how so?"
" I understand that you did what you did because you had good reasons, and I trust your judgement; perhaps I'm missing information?"
"We need to talk about this issue, and I find myself resisting, but be patient and bring me back when I wander?"
"When you tell me your reactions as now, I feel a bit scared of the consequences, but allow me to walk around a bit..."

More information about how you can learn to have conversations with your partner without aggression? Have a look at Fair Fighting

Neil Warner

Neil Warner

I'm the “relationship guru,” and my main focus is to increase the quality of love-based relationship experiences. In this ground-breaking guide I offer useful strategies on healing a difficult angry relationship with love and compassion. You don't have to stay in an unhealthy relationship one more minute. Let us share our tools with you today.

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