I recently thought about some ‘family rules’ for fighting in response to a question over at The Homeschool Lounge and thought I’d post it here on my blog too. Do you have some self-disciplines that help you maintain your relationship while you work through tough stuff?
- Take turns in talking. I’ve heard of some couples having an object and who ever has the object has the floor. Object can be a handkerchief or pen – whatever is handy. Take turns in holding the object as you listen to each other – remembering conversation is a two way thing. This helps with the interrupting and talking over each other. If this is established as a family rule then when you are interrupted you can gently remind them of the object and the family rule without getting personally upset.
- Reflective listening – I say what I have to say and the other person confirms what they’ve heard by repeating it; this gives me an opportunity to clarify or confirm that they have “heard” me properly. Then its the other persons turn to talk and I need to feed back to them what I’ve heard and they confirm
- Sometimes it is about being heard not necessarily coming to solutions. (I’m not talking about those times when us ladies don’t want them to FIX it but those times we really need to come to a conclusion). You may have to come to an agreement to ‘sit’ on it for a bit and come back to discuss it some more and find solutions in the next round.
- Have a curfew time for all serious talks – for us it is 9.00pm – anything past that will be unproductive to our relationship simply because we are too tired.
- Sometimes I have written a letter to Peter expressing my concerns – this gives him time to ponder before responding and certainly gives me an opportunity to choose my words wisely. Once he’s read the letter he’d get back to me with a time when we could sit down and talk. One of our differences is that I think quickly with words and he doesn’t so this gave space for him to collect his feelings and find words without me breathing down his neck waiting, waiting, waiting!!
- What my parents lived by was not to let the sun go down on their anger. I don’t think this necessarily means it all gets mended and all is wonderful again – but the apology for being angry and a promise reaffirmed to love (to listen, to be available etc) is a good start – go to bed on that. You may have to sort stuff out another time. Pete and I have adopted this rule too.
The absolute best advice we’ve ever been given – and we’ve lived – is to ask yourself the question – Why am I in this ‘fight/argument’ – to win or to improve/better our relationship?
Mostly we are in it to win – to prove we are right. Which is really a no win situation. To have the attitude, desire to improve our relationship in all that we say and do changes things.