Fighting Fair: The 4 F's.
Do you fight fair or unfair? Fighting fair means you are open to what your partner is saying and is acknowledging your partner’s thoughts and feelings. Fighting fair is not being defensive and instead hearing what your partner is saying even though you may disagree. It is natural for you to be defensive when you engage in an intense argument with your partner. You may feel like you are being attacked – attacked of your personal beliefs and self-worth. Let’s address the 3 major road blocks that deters from fighting fair. The physiologist Walter Cannon described responses to acute situations as fight, flee, and freeze. Dr. John Gottman also identifies 3 similar major conflicts as well. If you fight in the argument, how do you fight? Do you yell because you want to be heard and don’t feel like you have been heard? So many times, we make assumptions that your partner should be able to read your mind and your partner “should just know” what you are thinking. The fact of the matter is that your partner cannot read your mind and does not know what you are thinking unless you communicate with him/her.
So, what is really happening to your body and mood when you are in a state of a heated argument? Your body may feel constricted, your body temperature rises, and it takes a while for you to calm down. You are most likely in a negative mood and if the argument is not resolved, it can cause distance between your partner and you. How you resolve the argument says a lot of about your communication style and relationship.
If you flee, then that issue will always linger, and you will have to deal with it at some point unless you decide to end the relationship. Of course, if you refuse to address the conflict and remain in the relationship, you are likely to feel miserable. Imagine how your fleeing makes your partner feels. What is causing you to want to flee instead of dealing with situation? If you freeze, to the extent you may feel speechless or immobilized as in feeling detached or numb in an argument. In these cases, you may want to ask what is causing you to freeze in the situation? What is going on inside you to lead you to not be able to speak or react when you feel debilitated
Ultimately, you want to find ways in which you are not fighting (unfairly), fleeing, or freezing. Do you feel like you must “choose your battle” or “apologize even when you are right? What if you can find a way to not have to always choose a battle or not compromise your integrity and instead of fighting, fleeing, or freezing. You have the choice to flow, the 4th and ideal option. You want to flow with your partner. This option increases your intimacy with your mate. Finding a way to calm down, compromise, and communicate are all very essential tools in a healthy relationship. You want to flow by valuing yourself and respecting your partner all at the same time. Learn how to acknowledge your internal voice, feelings, and thoughts; and also learn to recognize how that decision affects your partner.
Call us and we can explore more tools to help you achieve a healthy relationship with yourself and your partner.