Fair fighting rule: A positive environment minimizes a destructive fight
Create the right environment so that when a conflict does occur, it is not overwhelming. To do this, partners need to respond regularly to one another in a positive fashion. We all yearn to love and be loved, to be seen, heard, and known—to matter. These yearnings are calls for attention: those everyday moments when we share a thought, an observation, an “I love you,” and we hope or expect our partner will respond with a laugh, a hug, or an acknowledgment. Couples whose interactions are brimming with these sort of positive exchanges create an atmosphere over time that tips the scales toward the creative rather than the destructive when the inevitable conflicts do arise. They’ve created the right atmosphere for the conflict itself to be positive. Here are powerfully simple ways to diffuse a fight with your partner.
Fair fighting rule: Avoid destructive behaviors that only make things worse
Disengagement behaviors like avoiding, stonewalling, withholding, keeping secrets, or being zoned out are detrimental to you and your relationship. Disengagement is the pretense of involvement, where you’re “kind of, sort of there” but only half-heartedly active and not really conscious of your real yearnings, your real heart. If all you ever argue about is politics or sports, or if you’re whining about superficial things that don’t get to the core of your issues, you’re not being productive. A pattern of criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and withdrawal is the result of negative engagements. It can destroy a relationship. Make sure you’re never the reason behind these signs of a toxic relationship.