Rule #3: Don’t Aim To Wound
When your blood is pumping and your temper is high and you’re full of righteous indignation because you feel that you’re being unfairly maligned, it can be incredibly tempting to lash out. You’re hurt and you want to strike back any way you can. The problem, of course is this doesn’t get you any closer to actually resolving the issue. In fact, it makes things worse. Name calling, insults, preying on insecurities, pulling out old grievances… all of these become weapons in a war of escalation between two parties who know exactly where to drive the knives for maximum pain.
Not only is it childish and counter-productive, this sort of fighting can cause a mortal wound to your relationship. The worse the fighting and name-calling, the greater likelihood that one of you is going to say something that you can’t take back. The wrong thing said in anger can bring even the strongest relationship to a grinding halt.
Suddenly you’re not fighting about the bills any more.
Now you’re desperately trying to fix the emotional equivalent of an iron prybar through the mid-section. Your relationship may survive… but it’s gonna have one hell of a scar afterwards.
Rule #4: Stick To the (Real) Issue At Hand
It’s entirely too easy for an argument to get derailed. You start off arguing about who left the seat up again, which turns into who made the two of you so late for the party last week which somehow further mutates into a fight about who is contributing what to the household and that iPad you shelled out for.
Some arguments can be so protean and malleable that before too long you don’t even remember what the hell set things off, just that the two of you are pissed off at each other for something which is almost certainly their fault. Meanwhile, the real problem – she feels that she has to fight to get your attention while you have all the time in the world for your buddies; you’re feeling as though you’re not allowed to have time to yourself, while she runs your life with clockwork precision – continues to fester just below the surface.
Keep diversions to a minimum, without rehashing old fights or side-issues, by focusing on the end-result. What is the fight about? What needs to be resolved? Stick to that goal. Getting distracted by other matters only delays actually resolving whatever matter started the fight in the first place.
A side note: if you find that the topic of the fight keeps changing, this is a good sign that the real problem isn’t what you’re arguing about. Go back to rule #2 and start listening to what your partner is really saying.
Rule #5: Never Underestimate the Power of “I’m Sorry”.
One of the more annoying tendencies of the male gender – especially “alpha male” types – is the tendency to believe that backing down means displaying weakness or ceding control.
In reality: some fights just aren’t worth having. Sometimes you’re legitimately in the wrong and trying to prove otherwise just means that you’re trying to salvage your pride at the expense of digging yourself into deeper trouble with your significant other. Sometimes “winning” the fight means you still lose; being proven correct just isn’t worth the cost in tears, resentment and sexual freeze-outs, especially when just apologizing is so much easier and costs you so little in the long run. Ask yourself whether this is a fight you need to have; do you have a legitimate point or are you just trying to prop up your ego? Be willing to back down for the greater good of your relationship.
Besides, the sooner the fight is over, the sooner you can have that awesome make-up sex.