Jennifer Johnston-Jones, Ph.D.
Fair fight with your spouse
How do you have a fair fight with your spouse? How to argue effectively? It’s interesting because in our culture we think anger and arguing and fighting are bad things. They’re not. The passion is what’s going to keep things alive. Of course you don’t want to be hating each other or going to extremes like that. But a healthy argument is a healthy thing. If your partner is annoyed you, they’re really into you to have the energy. That means they have energy enough to be frustrated you, to want to put their energy toward you, to connect with you.
The first thing is to eliminate the need not to fight. Restraining anger, restraining frustration makes it worse. Let it out. Don’t let it seep little little and then burst out. Let it out when it happens. Hey, I’m really ticked off that you took the car without asking me. Great. Okay, well, I should come back. It’s healthy to fight. It’s healthy to argue. There are ways to do it that are more healthy than not. Bring it up when you’re feeling it. Don’t battle it up. Don’t wait. Bring it up the moment it happens and think both about the way it comes out and about owning your feelings. Don’t say, you made me feel this way. The person didn’t make you feel anything. You made yourself feel that way.
If you own your feelings, your partner will not hear you defensively. They will actually be able to listen to what you’re trying to change. So, instead of you made me feel this way, you could say, I feel this way and I think it was in response to when you took the car without asking. It is that simple fact of owning your feelings when discussing them and not battling them up that is going to truly create healthy arguing. Don’t be afraid to argue.
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