Ask Dr. Frankie “How to fight fairly”

Ask Dr. Frankie Relationship and Dating Tips for Lesbians – Lesbian Matchmaker http://www.littlegaybook.com


Hello ladies…welcome back to Ask Dr. Frankie. Today I’m excited to talk about fight fairly. Learning how to fight fairly is one of the most important set of skills that you can learn in order to keep your relationship healthy and strong. Arguing, disagreeing and fighting is inherent in any relationship. In fact, if you’re not fighting here and there I would be concerned. Fighting doesn’t just occur in relationships that are failing, it occurs in most relationships and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. What makes the difference is how you choose to fight. The difference between couples who fight and make up from the ones who aren’t able to make up is often due to lack of skills that are necessary when trying to work through conflict in high stressed situations. Couples who fight fairly demonstrate subtle but crucial traits that keep them from becoming hostile and overly angry.

I want to share 4 relationship destroyers with you that Dr. John Gottman developed. He’s well known for his work on marital stability and relationship analysis. He has studied relationships for over two decades and is known for his ability to predict the likelihood of divorce in newlyweds.

Relationship Destroyer #1 CRITICISM:
Let’s focus on the use of criticism when communicating for a minute. Criticism can be blaming, finding fault, nit picking for small things or attacking your partners character. Complaining isn’t damaging or toxic however criticism is. For example, imagine you’re really frustrated with your partner for not putting her dishes in the dishwasher. You could choose to communicate your frustration by saying “Babe I’m really frustrated that you’re forgetting to put your dishes in the dishwasher and I really would appreciate it if you could make sure that you don’t forget next time.

You really want to focus on the behavior not the person. An example of using criticism in your statement would be if you said “You’re so lazy, why can’t you put your dishes in the dishwasher?”

So ladies, I really want you to be thoughtful about how you say what you say. Couples of fight fairly state their requests directly. If they want their partner to react differently they ask for it. They are able to communicate clearly about what they desire. They may say something like please put your dishes in the dishwasher for now on rather than I need you to change. Remember the goal is to communicate your thoughts and feelings in a way that your partner can hear you. When we’re being attacked our ears curl and we’re no longer hearing what is being said because we’re preparing to counter attack.

Relationship Destroyer #2: CONTEMPT:
Contempt occurs when we communicate with disgust. For example name calling, eye rolling, cursing, and being hateful. Couples who show a high degree of non verbal contempt for each other through behaviors like eye rolling, avoiding eye contact and shaking their heads are more likely to have relationship distress. Prolonged exposure to these behaviors build up resentment and anger that over time erodes the relationship. If you’re feeling really angry and disgusted with the situation take a breather and allow yourself some time to decompress. There’s no need to feel like you need to solve the problem this very moment when you’re full of anger. Keep in mind nothing gets accomplished when we’re angry. Give yourself a few minutes to cool off by taking a walk or listening to music then reattempt to communicate with your partner in a non contemptuous way.

Relationship Destroyer #3: DEFENSIVENESS:
Defensiveness occurs for example when you’re not taking responsibility for your own stuff, turning the blame on your partner. For example, your partner is trying to communicate her feelings to you and you follow up by saying “Well you don’t always put the dishes in the dishwasher either”. When you’re partner’s communicating how she feels even if it’s hard to hear what she has to say take a deep breath and try and stay focused and present instead of planning and formulating your response.

Relationship Destroyer #4: STONEWALLING:
Stonewalling is refusing to deal with the issue and an inability to deal with conflict. Stonewalling can be displayed by your partner walking away angry while you’re trying to communicate with her or ignoring you for hours or days after having a disagreement. Stonewalling is one of the most toxic behaviors one can engage in. If you need to take a time out from discussing the situation with your partner communicate with her by saying you need to take a breather for a few minutes instead of walking away with no explanation. You want to be clear that you’re not abandoning the situation.

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