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Posts tagged ‘fighting fairly’

8 Things Healthy Couples DON’T Do

SOURCE:  Ruthie Dean/Relevant Magazine

Last week, I saw a woman slam the car door in her husband’s face and storm off inside the grocery store. Then there was the couple sitting next to me, the man staring at his phone the entire time his wife shared with him her concerns about one of their children. I saw someone post a rant on Facebook about their spouse that ended with, “MEN!”

Relationships are hard, and we’ve probably all done something similar to the examples above. But that doesn’t excuse the cavalier mistakes we sometimes allow for in our romantic relationships. Dating and especially marriage relationships can be tools for showing Christ’s love—to the other person and to those around you. Too often, we take our spouses for granted and forget that good relationships don’t just happen. They take work.

It’s often harder to see the good relationships, because they aren’t out slamming doors and stomping around and airing grievances on social media.

Here are eight things healthy couples don’t do:

1. Post Negatively About Each Other on Social Media

12-year-olds post negatively about their boyfriends or girlfriends on social media. It’s a catty way to get attention and vent, when the emotionally healthy response is to talk your grievances over with your spouse when the time is right. Don’t fall into the trap of getting others on your side, on social media or otherwise, because healthy marriages only have one side.

 2. Make Their Career a Priority Rather Than Their Relationship

Yes, career is important. But as you are being pulled in every direction imaginable, something will get less attention, less time. Something in your life will have to be sacrificed. Your goal is to make sure that “something” isn’t your relationship. You can always find another job, but you only have one chance to make it work with the love of your life.

3. Have All Their ‘Together-Time’ With Technology

Of course there will be plenty of times that you’re together and using technology, but healthy couples know how to put down their phones and computers and turn off the TV to spend quality time together. Healthy couples don’t check Twitter on dinner dates. My husband and I have a rule that we put our phones upstairs each night after work so our dinner or together-time is not interrupted.

4. Avoid Hard Subjects

Relationships are about intimacy. If you can’t talk about the hard subjects, then your intimacy factor is off. There are seasons of marriage that are easy, and other seasons where you must make difficult decisions together. Nothing should be off-limits between the two of you, and conversations should always be approached with an abundance of grace and kindness.

5. Punish One Another

Punishing one another often comes out in the silent treatment or withholding sex or affection. Healthy couples know when it’s good to take a break from a disagreement, but also know how to come back together and find a resolution.

6. Withhold Forgiveness

Relationships run on forgiveness. You can’t have a healthy relationship without abundant forgiveness. The best relationships forgive quickly and frequently. Living with another person will always bring conflict and hurt feelings; the trick is knowing how to handle it. Forgive, and ask for forgiveness.

7. Say ‘Yes’ to Everything

Healthy couples have good boundaries—with family, with friends and with each other. If I’ve had a long week at work and my husband asks me to rally and go out with friends on Friday, whose fault is it if I get mad at him on the way home because I didn’t want to go in the first place? Mine. Healthy couples know their limits, know how to ask for help, and understand that “no” is a complete sentence.

8. Throw In the Towel

Healthy couples don’t give up when things are hard, even when things are really hard. If your spouse is important to you, you can get through this. Quitting is never an option for healthy couples.


The Dangers of Fighting Around Kids

SOURCE:  Andrea Atkins/

How you handle squabbles and manage disagreements has a direct effect on kids’ behavior.

Some families believe they should never fight “in front of the kids.” Others could care less, letting loose with stinging invectives whenever a disagreement erupts. It turns out that neither style of conflict resolution is very good for children’s emotional development.

“Conflict and anger are not bad,” says Patrick T. Davies, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, and co-author with E. Mark Cummings, of Martial Conflict and Children: An Emotional Security Perspective. “It’s OK to be angry, as long as it’s managed in a constructive way and the parents are making some progress toward resolution. In those cases, there’s value to anger, and there’s meaning in it. It’s good when kids see parents manage that and work together as a team to increase or maintain family harmony.”

But when families fight in an unpredictable way—when conflict arises out of seemingly innocent mistakes or small disagreements—kids suffer. Name-calling, door slamming, stony silence, one-upmanship, or aggressive physical actions threaten kids security, can have lasting and serious effects, and can color the whole family’s dynamic.

When parents fight that way, says Davies, kids spend so much time watching and worrying about their family members that their development may be affected. They can’t focus on the business of childhood: playing, learning, and exploring. In fact, those who grow up with constant fighting may develop lasting symptoms that include:

  • Clinginess
  • Belligerence
  • Sleeplessness (and tiredness during the day)
  • A habit of playing loudly to drown out the noise of yelling and screaming
  • Stomach aches
  • Headaches
  • Uptick in anxious behaviors: nail-biting, finger sucking, hair pulling and twirling

These same kids also spend less time with their parents because battling spouses don’t have the energy left to take care of their kids. And they often aren’t very nice to their children. “There’s something called anger spillover,” Davies explains. “When the parents fight, there’s a tendency for residual anger, stress, and preoccupation to spill over into their relationship with their kids. For many kids, conflict is a reliable precursor to their parents being in bad moods.”

Be sure that you are not exposing kids to toxic fighting by sticking to these guidelines:

Limit expressions of intense anger: “It may be difficult not to yell at times, but try to keep yelling to a minimum so it is rarely expressed in your conflicts,” Davies says. And when you have to yell, make an effort to make up with your partner, that way your kids will see harmony or affection in the face of disagreement.

Fight fair: Look at each other and, if possible, sit down, since standing fights seem more aggressive and threatening to children. Avoid the silent treatment, slamming doors, or walking out on your partner, since those actions are seen, especially by children, as signs of anger or disrespect, Davies says. Avoid name-calling and vicious language.

Stay in the moment: Don’t bring into each fight perceived wrongs from disagreements past.

Don’t try to be right: Try to reach a compromise or a solution. Doing that is much better than arguing about who is “right.” “Try to generate possible solutions that will work for both of you rather than going into the conflict with the mentality that you have to win the argument,” advises Davies. Demonstrate that you understand your partner’s perspective. You can nod your head, say, “I see,” or offer other non-verbal cues. If possible, repeat back to your partner your understanding of his or her viewpoint.

Avoid the Silent Treatment: “Kids pick up on nonverbal anger—even pre-schoolers do. And in some cases, that’s more distressing that mild verbal anger,” says Davies. “Kids can’t process it. They don’t know what is going on, but they know something is not right…it sets off a smoke alarm in their heads—they know something is wrong, and it becomes a bigger deal to them than maybe it really is.”

Sometimes agree to disagree: Sometimes there really is no resolution, but being able to acknowledge differences and move on sets a good example for kids, according to Davies. Instead of seeking to be right, seek to be heard in an argument, and let the other person know that you have also heard what he or she has said.

Talk to your grandchild: Sometimes big shouting matches do occur. Once they’ve passed, you can casually reassure your grandchild that the disagreement is over and all is back to normal. Warning: Don’t make that assurance if it’s not true.

“That’s critical,” Davies says. “You can say everything’s OK now as long as you’re not holding a grudge. If it’s not going back to normal the kids will see that and be confused by what you say.”

Kids who grow up around fighting tend to learn destructive tactics when it comes to resolving conflict in their own lives, Davies says. So before you explode at your spouse, realize that he or she is not the only one hearing it.

Eight Steps To Resolving Conflict

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Conflict is inevitable in business, marriage, families, churches and communities.

Below are eight (8) rules to follow if you want to have a productive disagreement and actually solve the problem.

1. Define the problem or conflict to be discussed and stick to the issue. Many disagreements get nowhere or deteriorate into brawls because the issue that started the conflict has gotten lost in the midst of ugly words or past issues that are thrown into the discussion.

2. When possible, plan the time. Preparing for fights isn’t always possible; sometimes they just erupt. But if you know there is a touchy issue that needs to be addressed, make a time to discuss it when both are rested and ready. It’s difficult to fight fairly and constructively when you’re tired, stressed out and distracted with other obligations.

3. Listen carefully to the other person’s perspective. Show attentiveness and respect with both your body language and words. (James 1:19; Proverbs 18:2)

4. Aim for a win-win solution that works. The integrity and well-being of our relationships are more important than the issue. Fighting to get your way or to prove you’re right is not godly. (Philippians 2:2-3 James 4:1-3)

5. Commit to do no harm. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Romans 13:10) We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Remember, our spouse is our very closest neighbor. Be gentle.

6. Tame your tongue – words can heal and can wound. (Proverbs 12:18) Do not use your tongue as a weapon to murder someone else. (Matthew 5:22) Watch your voice tone and body language. Do they communicate caring and openness or defensiveness and hostility? (Proverbs 29:11, Proverbs 25:20; 1 Peter 2:17)

7. If you are unable to fight fairly, take a time out until you can, but make a plan to return to the issue. Don’t just ignore it hoping it will go away. (Ephesians 4:25,26; Matthew 5:23-24)

8. If the other person breaks these rules, don’t react in kind. (Proverbs 15:1) Remember, we overcome evil with good, not more evil. (Romans 12:17-21) Things deteriorate pretty rapidly when two sinners sin against each other at the same time. (Galatians 5:13-15)

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