Couples often wrestle with a hot topic that quickly escalates into a fight -- but then nothing really gets unresolved. The source of the arguing may seem trivial on the surface, but it can break down the happiness level of your marriage due to the inability to move forward through negotiation and compromise. Realizing that you are both on the same team can help you to step back and make changes to end the fight and get past it, notes Laurie Puhn, author, family lawyer and mediator, in a Good Housekeeping article.
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The Root of the Conflict
Pay attention to the way you argue and fight. Ask yourself what the actual issue is over which you're fighting, as this can be different from the fight itself. For example, if your fight has to do with your husband's broken promise to clean out the garage, dig deeper to find the issue. Question such things as whether it's the mess that bothers you, the lack of communication within your marriage, or if it's a control issue. Addressing the actual root of the problem, even if you fear the outcome, can help you both grow and move forward, explains Dr. Phil McGraw, mental health specialist and daytime talk show host.
Create a Win-Win Situation
Keep in mind that a fight doesn't have to have a winner and a loser. If one of you manages to get the other to say, "Yes, you're right. You win," often neither of you really "wins." That's because the "loser" can have residual anger, which can cause resentment to build over time -- and damage your marriage in the long run. It's more important to walk away from the dispute with a deeper understanding of how you both feel about the real issue over which you're arguing, notes Laurie Puhn. Instead of one of you declaring defeat to put an end to the argument, you can try declaring a "time-out." This way, you can both walk away for a set time, and then discuss the issue later when you are both calm.
Partners in Crime
Your husband may think differently and process information differently than you, but he is not your child. While you may get carried away in the heat of the moment due to a lack of understanding of his actions, resist the urge to scream at him. Instead, directly ask him why he does what he does. For example, if you're angry because he isn't a help at bedtime, don't scream, "Why do you always disappear when it's time to put the kids to bed?" Instead, you might say, "When I can use your help at bedtime, you seem to retreat into your office. How come?" His reasons can help you explore a possible underlying issue and find a resolution. Perhaps, you can make some changes like dividing household responsibilities differently or moving bedtime to an earlier or later time.
Once you are able to clearly see the issue behind your fighting, you can tackle it together and come up with a few solutions to the problem. When you brainstorm as a team to create a workable solution, it increases the likelihood that you will stick to the plan. Let your husband know that you value his point of view and that you understand from where he's coming as you work toward a compromise that satisfies you both.