I want to clear something up. While I'm using the word "fight," I don't believe fighting is necessary in a healthy relationship. I do believe that communicating clearly and honestly is essential to a happy relationship.
Of course, there are always times when we get upset, angry and/or frustrated at our partner. The tips I am offering will help resolve tension and lead to a better understanding and more harmony during difficult talks. Rumi said it best: "Listen with ears of tolerance. See through the eyes of compassion. Speak with the language of love."
So when you are in the thick of it, try to breath, step back, and call to mind these few tips:
1. Set an intention for the conversation.
Fights are never good if you go into the conversation fearing it, or thinking it will be a failure. So set an intention for the fight. You can do this silently by simply visualizing the talk as a success. You can also say a small prayer or mantra, or practice a short meditation and state your goal for the conversation.
2. Have a goal in mind.
Often, when we get emotional about a particular set of issues, our emotions seem to run wild. Sometimes this causes the discussion to take jumps and leaps to irrelevant topics. But it will be more productive to stay mindful of the current discussion. So stay focused on the particular topic at hand and keep your intention in tact.
3. Write a letter.
If you have trouble expressing yourself verbally, a letter can help kick-start a deep conversation. Try writing everything down on paper that's bothering you. Keep it yourself, and sleep on it.
The next day, revisit the letter and take out that which is unnecessary, untrue, and unkind. This should not be a verbal assassination, but a guideline of what you would like to address.
4. Get a "Talking Stick."
Silly as it may seem, you may need a device to help hold boundaries — especially if you and your partner tend to have issues with talking over one another. The person with the stick gets to talk, while the other listens with undivided attention and a loving ear. Try not to think of ways to retaliate when your beloved is speaking. Just be present.
5. Be clear.
Start with basic questions: what is triggering this conversation? Are you being honest about the real issues at hand? If not, why? What can you do to introduce more honesty to the discussion? Know exactly what you want to convey. No beating around the bush allowed (it won't help either of you)!
6. Don't bring up old wounds.
Another way of saying this is "no low blows" or character assassinations. Stick to the task at hand and avoid detouring the conversation just to make the other feel guilty for past mistakes. Your joint goal is to uplift and promote change, not bring each other down.
7. Avoid pointing the finger.
Avoid statements like, "You made me do that" or "I acted like that because you did [fill in the blank]." No one can "make" you do anything. Blaming others, and blaming yourself, never ends well. Instead, you can say things like "When you do that, I feel X." Take responsibility for your own thoughts, feeling, and actions.
8. Know when it is not the right time.
If you are welling up with tears, or one of you is in an especially bad mood, the talk can wait. But whoever pumps the breaks on the chat has to reignite the conversation within one to two days.
9. Admit when you're wrong.
Never fessing up to your mistakes can unnecessarily prolong a conversation. No one is perfect, be the first one to accept your flaws and hopefully your partner will follow suit.
10. Have a sense of humor.
Lighten up! It's not the end of the world. Laugh at yourself and smile at the fact that you will get through this together.
11. Agree to disagree.
When you can't come to a consensus, sometimes it's OK to throw in the towel. Make sure you express that you love them no matter what, disagreement or not.
12. Don't use threats.
No threats! This is not an ultimatum — it's a catalyst for change! If you have an ultimatum in mind, that means the chances of your relationship lasting are 50-50 (or less).
13. Avoid comparing.
There's nothing worse you can do to a person than comparing them to someone else. If the issue is about something specific to your partner, make the conversation specific.
14. Take breathing intervals.
Speed-talking can lead to disaster. This is not a race of how fast you can get your words out. Take your time to breathe and think. Save yourself from having to say, "I didn't mean that" and/or giving the wrong impression.
15. Honor one another.
Love, honor, and respect are all cornerstones for a thriving partnership. Respect the other person's opinion, honor their thoughts, feelings, and entire being, and love them unconditionally.
16. End with a loving gesture.
Change the tone by doing something sweet for one another like a massage, cooking dinner or planning a date night out. Snuggling is also highly recommended!