Fighting is a normal part of every intimate relationship and, according to Martha Beck on Oprah.com, can even be healthy. Although conflict is an essential part of intimacy, there are some ways to approach it that can be constructive and some ways that can seriously damage a marriage. "Fighting fair" is a term used to describe a fight that leads to a resolution, rather than one that causes pain and is counterproductive. You can have a fair fight with your husband while keeping your relationship in good standing.
Stay on topic. Do not bring up your husband's past wrongs or hold a grudge. Doing so can escalate a small argument into a free-for-all that can seriously damage your relationship. Instead, focus on the matter at hand and work on reaching a resolution.
Resist the urge to yell. On PsychCentral, Marie Hartwell notes that the louder you yell at your partner, the less likely you are to be heard. Furthermore, yelling at your spouse can cause lasting damage to your relationship as well as hurt feelings. Communicate in a soft voice and do not let your anger get out of hand.
Do not insult your husband. Focus on the issue at hand; there should be no assassination of character. If your husband understands that the point of your fight is to reach a resolution, he will not take your comments personally.
Validate what he has to say. Listening carefully to his perspective will calm him down and show him that you care about what he has to say. Victor Harris from the University of Florida suggests that people validate others by listening with their mind, ears, eyes and heart. Answering probing questions will help your husband explain what is bothering him.
Keep it short. Putting a time limit on your fight keeps it from stretching on indefinitely. If you are having trouble reaching a resolution, take a break from the discussion and breathe. You will have a clearer perspective when you resume the conversation.
Keep it confidential -- keep the fight and your feelings about it between the two of you. Letting others, such as your family or friends, in on personal issues will lead to trust issues between you and your husband. Keep your problems to yourselves to demonstrate respect for one another.
- If your husband is emotionally or physically abusive, get out of the relationship. No amount of negotiating will cause him to change.
- John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images