Relationship Rules: Rule #2 Establish Fair Fight Rules
The Relationship Rules: Rule #2 Agree Upon Fair Fighting Rules
Continuing in my series for couples, whether married couples or romantic couples who have moved past the dating selection phase into relationship building and real courtship, I want to address the topic of Fighting and Arguing. I know. You’re just thrilled to hear that topic of couples fighting and arguing brought up and are eager to hear more.
But wait. Hold on just a second and trust me on this one. I wouldn’t surface this if it weren’t important.
Relationship Rules: What Is Fair Fighting for Couples?
What I actually want the two of you to do as a couple is to discuss, agree, commit, and establish that you two will only engage in Fair Fighting. I’m not just talking about no below the belt punches. I’m also talking specifically about name calling.
You must discuss, agree, commit and establish the Couples Fair Fighting Rule of No Name Calling.
Why is this one topic so incredibly important?
Relationship Rules: Why Is The No Name Calling Fair Fighting Rule Important to Your Couple? Because It Always Hurts
Because I don’t know a single man or woman who would when truth be told doesn’t say, “Name calling hurts. It always hurts.” You seriously wound each other and hurt each other when you resort to engaging in name calling.
Relationship Rules: Why No Name Calling Fair Fighting Rule? Because You Can Never Take It Back
There are also studies about sound and for how long and how far sound travels. This was quoted to me and unfortunately I did not have paper and pen to write it down. It is essentially it lasts forever. What does that mean practically? That you can never take it back. If you were to stoop to engage in name calling, you can never take it back. And at the same time, you seriously emotionally and psychologically wound and damage your partner, whom you say you love.
The last time I had roommates just before I started dating my late husband, I lived in a flat in San Francisco just below an engaged couple. I don’t think they ever made it to the altar. I would hear them yelling and screaming at each other and heard the names they yelled at each other. You can’t tell me that doesn’t have an effect on you when that is uttered by the one person in the world who says they love you the most that they want to marry you and share their lives together with you.
Psychological studies demonstrate how badly this hurts and damages young children when parents resort to that behavior. What makes us think our spouse is any different and in need of less tender loving care? I’m not purporting that my late husband and I were perfect in this area. However, it was one of our agreements. Perhaps in 3.5 years together I think the rule was broken once. To me, that’s a pretty good track record, and life happens. This rule is a commitment and a rule. And we are still human with room to err and mend our ways and keep growing in mutual love and intimacy.
Relationship Rules: What Are Some Practical Tips to Stop Your Couple’s Communication Cycle of Name Calling?
What can you do? First, please know, I do not judge you and think you are a bad person. Maybe this is the behavior you saw modeled in your parents marriage. You simply don’t know any better. Or you do now know better, but you don’t know what to do instead.
Breaking Free of Name Calling Practical Tip #1
First, all of us need to have this discussion together in our couple when we are in good mood and feeling tender feelings together. Communicate in a loving moment together. If there is a history of this happening more than once or twice over the course of years in a relationship than you two may need to apologize to each other. “I apologize that I used to do name calling with you. I don’t want to do that any more. I’m making an effort to learn to be better. I really do love you. Thank you for putting up with my poor behavior.” Please notice the focus is on the behavior not that anyone is bad and the other good.
Breaking Free of Name Calling Practical Tip #2
Second, make a commitment to yourself that should the urge to blurt something out of your mouth should ever in the future arise that in that moment, no matter what, you get up, get out of the room, and get away from your partner. You might need to lock yourself in the bathroom for 10 minutes. You might need to take a 10 minutes walk outside around the neighborhood.
Studies demonstrate that typically and compulsive urge lasts literally only a few minutes. Establishing habit that prevents you from saying something you will regret and stretching the time between the urge and what you say next is a powerful tool to support the loving communication of your couple. If anger and rage are a problem and challenge for you, ping me. I work with clients to release and reduce that chronic rage so they can instead be the loving partner they want to be and could be. Your couple is worth it.
Happy Dating and Relationships!
As seen in Dating for Dummies, 3rd Edition
April Braswell speaks to singles in Singles Groups and Divorce Recovery Groups as well as at Singles Dating Workshops and Singles Conferences. Hire April to speak at your Singles Event?