How to fight so your marriage is affair-free

Dear Hubby and I had an argument this week. It was on Monday and it was a fairly major disagreement primarily brought about because God’s plan for marriage is for a husband and wife to commit to one another for a lifetime–not to have second spouses! Being a second spouse is trying at times, and impossibly difficult at others, because no matter how much the first spouse leaves, moves on, and claims to be done, there will always be some need for connection or communication (sometimes for the children, and sometimes over lingering legal matters). Anyway, the disagreement arose due to interference from one of our exes regarding preparing taxes. In short, the ex believes that they can claim a dependent when they do not support that dependent throughout the year.

The reason this argument was important, though, was not so much the subject matter. It’s significance was primarily in that Dear Hubby and I rarely disagree; we are just so much alike and both so easy-going that if the other asks for something we usually go with it. Why not? In the big scheme of things we agree, at least in theory, on the big things: politics, religion, how things should run in the house, and who does what. 😛 It’s significant because we often here couples say: “We fight all the time! He or she is so mean (spiteful, hateful, etc.)!! I can’t take it and I’m thinking of leaving!” Fights can often easily turn into MAJOR, HUGE Love Extinguishers of angry explosions, disrespectful judging, blaming, name calling, and criticizing–even threatening the security of the marriage!

So how do two individualized people in a couple disagree without it becoming World War III and making their marriage vulnerable to an affair? Here are our rules:

  1. Let the fight to be in private–Don’t fight in front of kids, neighbors or boss. Fighting in front of the kids can emotionally harm them, and fighting in front of neighbors or boss does nothing but degrade and embarrass. Use self-control to contain yourself and speak privately.
  2. Let the fight be respectful–Don’t let the fight degenerate into a personal attack. Stay focused on the issue.
  3. Let the fight be pertinent–Don’t bring up old events or old arguments. Put boundaries around the issue you’ll be discussing.
  4. Let the fight be focused–Don’t fuss and fume about the symptoms of the problem; tackle the problem. Transparently discuss the issue that’s really bothering you.
  5. Let the intensity of the fight be appropriate to the issue–Don’t make every little disagreement an earth-shattering drama, nor threaten the stability of your commitment during each argument. Have a small discussion while the issue is small; and be firmly intense but loving for the larger issues.
  6. Let the fight be solution-oriented–Have a goal in mind, request the solution you want, and work together to find a solution that you can both agree to enthusiastically.
  7. Let there be a time limit–Don’t let an argument stretch on forever leading into days or even weeks of spite, silence, or the cold shoulder.
  8. Let your partner retreat with dignity–Give them a way to apologize or joke and save some face. End the fight with resolution, forgiveness and acceptance.
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