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Fighting Fair! What You Didn’t Learn In Health Class: Ask Dr. Miro [BEST OF FaN]

Learning how to Fight Fair and Communicate are crucial skills for all aspects of life. I understand how difficult it is to employ these “rules” when caught up in the emotional moment which is why I am choosing this Blogumn to repeat: a refresher for both my readers and me.

Originally published 06/08/11

Dear Dr. Miro,

My boyfriend and I just had our first major fight. We’ve never disagreed this majorly before and I’m wondering if this is “it”. We moved in together a year ago. I worry that he’s doing similar things as my ex-husband and fear maybe I should cut my losses right now before it gets too deep. He agreed to pick me up from an appointment next week and then scheduled a guy’s weekend in Vegas for the same time! How irresponsible! My ex made many promises to me that he didn’t keep and so you can see why I’m freaking out. He claims he forgot but still wants to go to Vegas AND suggested a friend of mine pick me up!!! I should just find a new apartment and dump him, right?


On the Way Out

Dear OtWO,

Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. This is your first big fight and you have been co-habitating for a year? That, in itself, is amazing. A couple’s first argument is an important milestone! I know it sounds strange, but this is an incredible opportunity for growth and has the potential to truly bring you closer together. Obviously, you were greatly hurt by the carelessness of your ex-husband but here is a new guy and a totally different situation. It is not fair to pile up all your hurt feelings from your past marriage onto this new man.

Getting back to your first argument… It is essential to understand the elements of Fighting Fair, as this will set the tone for the rest of your relationship. Be as respectful as possible. Meaning, do not bring up past situations or make personal digs. Stick to the present tense. Since this argument is between you and him, that is all who should be involved. Threatening to leave the relationship is not helpful. Let him know how much his behavior hurt you. You can even let him know how it triggered you. Hopefully with this kind of honest dialogue you will learn that it is possible to express your grievances before they get too out of control.

Here are some ground rules to take into consideration when you find yourself entering that heated scary place of an argument:

  1. Speak for YOUR self by using “I feel” statements. Take responsibility for your statements since they are yours.
  2. Avoid Mind Reading. Do NOT assume you know what your partner is thinking because, chances are, you have no idea. How could you possibly know everything that has happened to him that day?
  3. Give specific examples of what behavior is upsetting you. Stay on topic.
  4. When your partner responds, LISTEN. I mean, really hear him. Stop figuring out what your comeback is going to be and try to understand his perspective.
  5. Stick to the issue at hand in the here and now.
  6. Do NOT threaten to bring family or friends into this or run away from the problem. Pull up your Big Girl Pants and face your issues like an adult.
  7. Bring up issues when you have the time and space to do so. If this means scheduling it with your mate, do it.
  8. Validate contrary perspectives. EVEN if you do not agree with each other, respect one another’s point of view.
  9. Focus on solutions – NOT who is to blame. You can even ask, “How can we make this work?”
  10. After all is said and done, show appreciation for working on this together. Let him know how much it means that he is willing to go through this muck with you. If you did not care about each other, you would not bother, so acknowledge this!!

Since how you two face this disagreement together will set up the dynamic for the rest of your coupling, these ground rules are pretty important. When you learn how to navigate through disagreements with respect and care, you discover how much closer you and your love will become. Making sure everyone feels heard and appreciated creates space for trust and understanding. This can lead to a much more fulfilling and deeper bond on so many levels. Just think of how intense sex can be when you are able to truly accept each other’s perspectives and needs!

Lust & Happiness,

Dr. Miro

featured image credit: portobeseno