"To keep the fire burning brightly there's one easy rule: Keep the two logs together, near enough to keep each other warm and far enough apart - about a finger's breadth - for breathing room. Good fire, good marriage, same rule." ~ Marnie Reed Crowell
No matter how deep and strong their love is, a couple will sometimes tend to fight. It is not that they are immature or obstinate, it is just that they are two different people with different perspectives towards various aspects of life. The struggle of blending these different ways of perception, not as 'You' or 'Me' but as 'We' complicates the whole thing.
Okay, so that makes it clear -- fights are unavoidable. However, we can at least make an effort to fight in a way that is fair and civil and doesn't compel your better half to lose in your quest to win. Remember, you both are players of the same team.
Fair Fighting Rules for Couples
If you abide by them, the storm will pass by peacefully and also leave behind a workable solution of the issue at hand.
Deal with the Problem and Finish it
An unfinished argument will keep on lingering and will disrupt your routine, quality of life. Ideally, an argument should not have a life span of more than 24 hours and yes, according to the the age-old belief, you should not carry grudges on to the next day. Finish and bury them before going to bed. (Say sorry, in case you are required to end the argument!)
No old grudges or sore issues from the past should be dragged in the conversation if it doesn't belong to that particular discussion. Mark boundaries around a subject, and stick to it.
Name calling, insulting, blaming, criticizing, cursing, or even shouting for that matter can be included in foul language. Ensure that you maintain your partner's dignity, and clearly steer away from any sort of character assassination.
Yelling is usually subjective. What sounds as yelling to your partner may sound normal to you. You may think that your pitch is still bearable while your partner may think otherwise.
When the fight reaches a boiling point and your heartbeats start racing, it's time for you to take a break and withdraw yourself. But this withdrawal should not be a trick to leave the argument midway. You should always inform your partner that after you cool down, you will return and finish the argument.
During the break, do anything that you find to be a stress buster. Playing with your pet, reading your favorite book, listening to calming music, or doing just anything to get your perspective back can work wonders. A break of 20 to 30 minutes is enough to regain composure.
It should be kept in mind that your partner also gets an equal chance to voice an opinion. So, whenever you are speaking (not yelling!) and your partner interrupts, you should hold your talk and listen (not just hear). Another sub-rule that applies here is "listening with concentration."
It means that when the other person is talking, you should avoid distractions, like texting, watching TV, or planning a counterattack. Make as much eye contact as far as possible. If this dictum gets overruled by any party, then there are chances that the conversation may lose its focus. (Remember rule 2?)
Suddenly becoming silent in the middle of an argument would send a signal that you are not interested in the argument and are trying to end it. It will give rise to a fresh topic for your partner to argue upon, because now the feelings of resentment would have increased in intensity.
No Blame Game
Using statements that start with "I" rather than "you" will keep the other person from becoming defensive. If your point of argument is that your partner is not helping you enough in the routine household chores, instead of saying "You never help me with the chores", say "I would like it if you would wash the dishes at least 3 times in a week."
Now, see the difference! It is highly recommended that you use statements like "I think" and "I feel" instead of starting the sentence with "you."
Involving opinions of other people can also be considered as comparison. For example: "Mac's sister agrees with me", or "Jane also thinks that you are careless with money." The only opinions that should matter and be considered relevant are those of the two, who are arguing. Speak your mind rather than agreeing with and repeating what others have said.
Practice Apology, Peace, and Love
These three words are golden when it comes to maintaining a relationship. Saying sorry if required will not only boost your ego but also will make you feel proud that you showed the maturity to back off. It shows that you value the relationship more than winning the argument. Your partner will definitely accept your apology and appreciate the gesture.
In turn, he/she would give his/her own peace offering, thus bringing down the heat of the argument. If you both have still not arrived at a workable compromise, don't worry. At least, you both have regained perspective. Now you can talk (this time only talk -- that too peacefully; don't jump into a second round of argument) all over again.
No Public Display of Aggression
Please do not post updates on social networking sites! (they are not your diary). It is highly (and strictly) recommended that you should curb the urge of updating your social network with what's going on in your personal life.
There may be some people in your friends' list who may interpret your comment (or the sappy song you posted) in an inappropriate way and spread the grapevine that "you two are breaking up." This can be damaging and may spoil your social reputation. You never know the consequences.
Last but not the least, no fighting if either of you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Remember to set some ground rules before starting an exchange. You might apply all the given rules, delete a few, edit a few, and add a few according to your requirements. Just concentrate on conflict resolution because when that happens, both of you win.