Every Wednesday is Tip Day. This Wednesday: twenty-three phrases to help you fight right.
Almost all couples fight; the secret is to fight right. I’ve posted about what not to say during a fight. Here are some phrases that actually help.
I review this list from time to time, so that when I’m arguing with my husband, I remember the phrases that help me fight right. Recently, for instance, I was angry at my husband for showing – I thought – a lack of respect for my priorities. So I waited until a good moment (this itself is tough for me), and said, “I need you to listen. This is important to me.” From his startled expression, he clearly thought I was starting a fight; but by warning him that I needed him to respond carefully, we managed to avoid a fight altogether.
When my husband and I do argue, I find that the single best technique to apply is humor. If one of us can laugh and joke around, the angry mood lifts instantly. But during an argument, my sense of humor is the first thing to go.
Failing that strategy, here are twenty-three phrases that help turn down the heat of anger:
Please try to understand my point of view. Wait, can I take that back? You don’t have to solve this—it helps me just to talk to you. This is important to me. Please listen. I overreacted. I see you’re in a tough position. I can see my part in this. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. I could be wrong. Let’s agree to disagree on that. This isn’t just your problem, it’s our problem. I’m feeling unappreciated. [Always, my craving for gold stars!] We’re getting off the subject. You’ve convinced me. Let’s take a break for a few minutes. [If you can remember to do this, it’s extremely effective – especially if you’re having a big fight. After a break, it’s almost impossible to go back to yelling.] Please keep talking to me. I realize it's not your fault. That came out all wrong. I see how I contributed to the problem. What are we really fighting about? How can I make things better? I’m sorry. I love you.
I actually get tears in my eyes when I read this list. Such is the uplifting power of fighting right.
Also, to fight right, it’s very important to respond well if your sweetheart makes a repair attempt – the technical term for a gesture of reconciliation and love. Don’t rebuff a repair attempt!
What other strategies or phrases have helped you fight right?
* A thoughtful reader sent me the link to an excellent blog Half Full, about "the science of raising happy kids."
* If you like the blog, you'll love the book! It's not just a collection of touched-up blog posts, I promise. Pre-order The Happiness Project now!