Fair Fighting Makes Togetherness Safe
If it weren’t for marriage men and women would fight with total strangers.
A relationship without conflicts is unusual, and may even be unhealthy. While conflict is uncomfortable, it is also normal. It signifies that each partner in the relationship is strong enough to assert his or her own will. Of course this is all a matter of degree. There are various patterns of relating in which conflict is avoided or reduced, but often at a high emotional cost: where one partner gives up on equally sharing control or power in order to keep the peace.
Each couple has its own unique way of beginning and engaging in a conflict. The amount of resentment built up and personal individual history determines the “temperature” of that personal connection. There are couples that are hot and only a small spark detonates an explosive confrontation; whereas other couples seem only to smoke and smolder without ever entering a real argument.
Conflict generates is anger; anger does not need to be hurtful.
The challenge is to have a conflict where the opposing positions are clearly stated; a resolution is reached with some degree of compromise and no permanent damage is done to either person or the union between them. Each healthy conflict is like a single word in an ongoing negotiation between partners, ever re-arranging their togetherness as they change and hopefully mature. So controlled conflicts should not be avoided; they propel couples forward in growth provided the conflicts are safely resolved.
The following 11 rules, if followed, help to keep arguments constructive, safe and under control:
Enter conflicts boldly. To become skilled at fair fighting takes practice.
Andrew Aaron, LICSW