The three issues that cause the most strife in marriages are “money, sex and kids.”
Arguments signal a breakdown in communication.
How Not to Fight
Refuse to participate. It takes two to tango and to argue.
If one issue rears up frequently, discuss how you made past decisions and what changes would work in the future.
Strive to look at the problem from your spouse’s perspective.
Seek a solution that works for your family’s unique situation.
Ask people you trust how they resolved a similar situation.
Communicate openly and honestly, and work together as partners, not adversaries.
Your marriage is similar to a small business in that you bring in income, pay expenses and decide what to do with your profits.
To resolve conflicts about money or other touchy issues, apply these problem-solving techniques:
Start every discussion positively, by acknowledging your efforts to work together.
Take turns describing the problem and explaining your points of view.
Brainstorm ideas. Include them all, no matter how far-fetched they might seem.
Discuss and evaluate each viable option.
If you reach an impasse, conduct additional research and seek outside advice.
Reach an agreement, write it down and confirm that it meets your individual needs.
Fights about sex often occur because one partner feels rejected when the other partner withdraws emotionally and physically.
If you can’t avoid an argument, try following some fair fighting guidelines:
Concentrate on finding a solution, not on who is to blame.
Leave prior incidents in the past and focus on the issue at hand. Stay on topic.
Talk briefly and then give your partner the opportunity to respond.
Practice active listening techniques.
Stay connected by making eye contact, touching or holding hands.
Express your anger calmly and keep it in check.
Be respectful and acknowledge your spouse’s feelings. Do not mock or disregard them.
Attack the problem, not the person.
Delay the discussion if you are tired, hungry or tipsy.
If you make a mistake, own up to it and take responsibility.
Parenting disagreements place a huge amount of stress on a relationship.
Children can be raised correctly in more than one way. To reach common ground, focus on what is best for your child.
Unfair fighting involves placing blame, making accusations or bringing up irrelevant issues.
Healthy relationships progress through various stages over the course of a marriage.
A mature, committed relationship is based on mutuality in four areas:
“Mutual love” – Love is the fuel of your commitment. When both partners feel loved and appreciated, the relationship will thrive.
“Mutual trust” – Over time, each partner has many opportunities to build and renew trust. You build trust when your actions support your words and promises.
“Mutual benefit” – Make decisions that are the best for the partnership. Couples benefit “emotionally, financially, mentally and spiritually” from their relationships.
“Mutual support” – Support is most important during the hard times that inevitably occur. Support your partner and take responsibility for your own happiness.
Mutual “love, trust, benefit and support” are the cornerstones of a mature relationship. Then add a little humor.
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist. She has written 11 books, including The 10 Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make Before 40 and The Real Thirteenth Step. Dr. Tessina, also known as “Dr. Romance,” has appeared on Larry King Live and Oprah.