Who are the happiest couples?
(a) those who argue frequently and intensely
(b) those who argue with respect and resolve issues
(c) those who never argue
Research shows that the correct answer is (b); those who argue with respect and resolve issues are the happiest couples. Those who argue frequently/intensely and those who never argue are equally unhappy. While it is obvious that aggressive behavior is destructive in a relationship, it is also true that passive-aggressive behavior and/or an absence of communication are quite destructive.
It takes wisdom and self-control to walk away from an intensely negative emotional “contest,” but it also takes wisdom and self-control to walk together after everyone calms and then speak with mutual respect as you discuss the issue at hand. To resolve the issue is a great goal, but it is okay to (at minimum) agree to disagree and move on without harboring resentment. A wedding is easy, but a marriage is hard. To fight is easy, but to fight fair is hard.
To be a “Maximum Strength Parent”, work hard to “fight fair”:
- Don’t allow little irritations to accumulate
- Don’t “dredge up” loosely related, volatile issues
- Don’t “drag” third parties into the mix (e.g., the proverbial “mother-in-law”)
- Don’t fight dirty and make personal attacks
- Don’t name call
- Don’t “tease” with malice
- Don’t interrupt each other
- Don’t blame and accuse; instead, focus on problem-solving
- Don’t make “all-or-none” statements (e.g., “You never help with the kids”)
- Don’t fight for a “victory” for yourself, fight, instead, for a “victory” for your relationship
- Don’t scream and use a threatening tone of voice
- If your partner does not want to discuss the matter at that time, set an appointment to discuss it within 2 days
- Talk about what bothers you within 2 days of an incident
- Listen to what your partner says about the details of the incident, and also listen for your partner’s underlying emotions
- Start sentences with ‘I’ (e.g., “I want to resolve this”) instead of ‘you’ (e.g. “you want to make this into a big argument”)
- Be willing to ask for and/or give forgiveness (it’s hard to forgive, but it’s harder not to forgive; Holding a grudge gives someone else control over your inner peace)