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fight fair

Are You Fighting Fair? Rate Yourself

Take a few minutes to assess how you are doing in the fighting fair department. Sometimes couples are very aware that their fights are not fair. At other times one or both of them may be unaware of how destructive their fighting patterns are. Doing the following assessment, may help you pinpoint things that you could do to insure that the conflict in your relationship is constructive rather than destructive. Are you fighting fair?

Rate yourself: Answer each of the following questions true or false.

1. Do you believe that conflict means you don't love each other?

2. Do you think that angry feelings should not be expressed?

3. Do you believe that conflict is inevitable and can be positive?

4. Do you find yourself blaming your partner for the problems in your relationship?

5. Do you initiate a fight late at night or at other inopportune times (like when you are about to visit your in-laws)?

6. Do you carefully choose where and when you bring up problems?

7. Do you say mean things to your partner, especially about things s/he cannot change?

8. Do you ever start fights with your partner when you are actually angry with someone else?

9. Do you discuss your concerns soon after the incident rather than bringing it up months later in the middle of a fight?

10. Do you have repeated fights about things that happened in the past?

11. Do you use blaming and accusing language like “you always”, “you never”, or “you are such a __”?

12. Do you stick to the issue you are concerned about and deal with one issue at a time?

13. Do you call your partner nasty names?

14. Are you ever trying to get even with or punish your partner?

15. Do you make positive rather than negative requests of your partner, like “could you please (insert specific positive request)” rather than “stop it”?

16. Do you blame yourself for your conflicts?

17. Do you ever throw things at your partner when you are angry?

18. Do you believe you can and should express your anger constructively?

19. Do you belittle, shame or speak condescendingly to your partner?

20. During a fight, do you yell at your partner?

21. Do you actively listen to your partner's point of view during a disagreement?

22. Have you ever been physically aggressive toward your partner?

23. Do you have to be right at all costs?

24. Do you call for a time out when you are getting too angry to continue?

25. Do you respect your partner's requests for a time out?

To score the assessment:

Give yourself one point for any Questions numbered 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24 & 25 to which you answered True.

Give yourself one point for each of the other questions to which you answered False.

The higher your score, out of 25 points, the more you fight fair. If you scored less than 15 or if you ever exhibit aggressive behavior toward your partner, you are not fighting fair. Go back and carefully consider your answers to the questions and notice areas where you could make some changes to help your conflicts be constructive rather than destructive.

Fighting Fair

It may seem like a contradiction to say that we should fight fair, but fighting dirty is a definite relationship killer. Unfortunately far too many couples resort to dirty tactics when their tempers flare. Although it may momentarily feel satisfying to win that battle, just remember that each time you destroy your partner in a fight you put your relationship at greater risk of failing. Here are some suggestions that can help you to solve disagreements in a positive way:

Be Respectful This is true at all times. Name calling, sarcasm or nasty teasing are never a good idea. If you slip and say something disrespectful apologize right away.

Validate Each Other's Thoughts and Feelings Saying things like, "It seems that you are really frustrated and I hear that you would like me to . . . " helps the other person to feel heard and understood. This can this means that one person talks at a time, rather than trying to outshout each other.

Make The Problem The Problem Visualize that it is the two of you against the problem. Try not to make each other the problem.

Tackle One Problem At A Time Don't get side tracked into bringing up all the past issues you can think of. Deal with the problem at hand.

Couple Arguing

Use "Time Outs" Wisely If you find that either partner's temper is getting hot, take a time out. If your partner requests a time out, honor that request. Use the time out to calm yourself down. Make sure that after the time out is over you finish dealing with the problem.

Listen to Understand This is probably one of the most important things that you can do to reduce conflict. Everyone wants to feel hear and understood. Giving that gift to your partner may make it easier for him/her to listen to you.

Deal With Needs Rather Than Positions Rather than taking a stand and sticking to it, try to identify the needs underneath your position. Try to find a way for both of you to get what you need, perhaps not exactly what you think you each want, but a way that works for both.

Communicate Clearly Don't play games, or beat around the bush. You cannot solve a problem if you cannot understand what the problem is.

Forgive and Accept Each Other Forgiveness and acceptance are incredibly healing. Be kind to each other.