I am blessed that my husband and I really don't fight. We bicker, usually about current events or politics, but that's the easy stuff.
I am also blessed that my husband is a respectful man. In fact, he inspires me to be a better person simply by the example he sets when we disagree.
Fighting fair is an important lesson to learn, even when you don't fight. The rules of conflict resolution are vital to all relationships.
Here's what I have learned:
1. Share the road.
Understand that you may see things differently. Make space for his views and acknowledge that, while they may be different than yours, they're probably not wrong. In most matters, different does not equal wrong; only different. Practice empathy. Can you see why he thinks this way?
Don't say something now that you'll regret later. Obviously, name calling is a no-no, but also, the middle of a fight is not the time to bring up a laundry list of past sins. Is your goal to make him feel badly, express your views, inspire action, or persuade him to your way of thinking? Some of these happen easier than others. Decide what you really want before you create something you don't.
3. If you were hurtful, own it.
Apologize. Acknowledge what you did that was wrong and hurtful and figure out how to make it right. Then, make it right with you. If your behavior is causing conflict in your relationship, actively or passively, own it and change it.
As Dr. Phil says, do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? As much as we hate to admit it, sometimes, we're the problem. When we choose the behavior, we choose the outcome. If we want a different outcome, we have to change something. Start inward, because we all know, we cannot change someone else. And why would we want to? We chose this person for who he is, not because we want to change him.
And if the latter is the case, there's more going on in this story.
No one likes fighting with the one they love. But it's unrealistic to expect that everything will go perfectly all of the time.
When it doesn't, remember to fight fair, and avoid the fallout of unfair tactics once the original problem has long since faded, or adding on to a problem that continues to surface.