1. Only Involved Parties– This means keep your fights private. Don’t burden children with your disagreements. Find a time and place to work things out away from the kids. You should be honest with your kids if an argument starts in front of them, but don’t let it go on. You can let them know that mom and dad have disagreements, like everyone does, but that they will figure it out.
–Likewise, don’t take the topic to other people. Working it out directly with the person you’re upset with is the only way to resolve the problem. It’s okay to get support from friends, etc. but this is not a replacement for dealing directly with your partner.
2. Use “I Statements”– Talk about yourself rather than the other person. State what you need and how things make you feel.
3. Be an active listener- Take turns talking, and really focus on what the other person is saying without judgment. Repeat back to them what you thought they said to show that you really heard and want to understand them.
4. Stay on Topic- Don’t bring in other issues you’re upset about. Also don’t bring up old fights unless they are really relevant to the current issue. If you have resentment built up from past pain, start addressing your feelings in the ‘here and now’ to stop this process of emotional build-up.
5. Take Time-Outs– If either person gets too upset, call for a time out. Respect the other’s need for a break and agree to finish later.
6. Talk About Feelings– Get to the feelings underneath the topic. Be brave enough to be vulnerable, and respect your partner when they are.
7. Respect- No name-calling. Also don’t punish your partner by ignoring them, using sarcasm or gloating when you’ve proven them wrong. If a fight has a ‘winner’ and ‘loser’, you’ve both lost.
8. Pick Your Battles- Realize that every disagreement doesn’t have to turn into a battle.
9. Repair- After a fight, when both parties have calmed down, return to the person and try to figure out how it got out of control. Take responsibility for your part and make a plan to be more constructive next time. Apologize if necessary.