Mark and I recently did a weekend marriage conference. We had just completed a session about how to fight fair in marriage when a young, newly-married, couple approached me during the break. The moment I was free they leaned in with an anxious look on their faces and asked, “when did conflict start in your marriage?” I paused. The air was full of expectation, and I felt my answer had significant power to help or hurt this poor suffering couple.
I only paused for a moment. I was pretty confident I could provide comfort. So I answered, “72 hours after we said I do.” It did not take long for Mark and me to hit a wall in our marriage–a wall of ice, in our case. We went skiing for our honeymoon and my handsome double diamond daredevil took me down a slope of ice. This slope was way beyond my skill level. My life flashed when I almost went over a cliff. I was black and blue from falling/sliding on ice, and I seriously doubted my husband had any intention of keeping his recent marital vow to love, cherish, and protect! Adrenaline, fear and furry were erupting within. I kicked off my skis at the bottom of that tower of terror and I let Mark have it.
Like the sweet couple at the conference, many couples get discouraged about conflict, when in fact, we all have it. Some of us are just better at conflict resolution than others. The trick is to accept the fact that you will have conflict and learn to do it well–learn to fight fair!
My husband has a great blog about identifying 7 trigger points of conflict. It may help you identify how your conflict starts. I want to share with you what to do when conflict arises. I want to share with you the 4 ways we have learned to fight fair! These are simple tools that we learned in marriage counseling. Yes, please know that we have gone to counseling often in our marriage and it worked! We recommend it.
The 4 ways to fight fair are 1. The Do-Over (my favorite) 2. The Scale 3. The Listener/Speaker Technique and 4. REST. I have outlined how to use these tools in the PDF you can download for reference below.
If you have any questions about how to use each tool, feel free to ask in the comments below and I will explain them further.