Your Next Argument: 10 Thngs to Consider Before You Get There

1. It's addictive. Fighting, and the anger that comes with it, kicks off the old fight-or-flight response that prepares us to handle a threat. This produces a kind of energy, or "high." Some people have said that what kept the fighting alive in their relationship was the "juiced" feeling they would get when fighting mad.

2. It's not necessary. Conflict in marriage is inevitable. It's also necessary for a relationship because, if you have your own mind, you will sometimes see things differently. Being able to successfully handle the conflict of seeing things differently speaks to the strength of the relationship.

While conflict is inevitable and even necessary, fighting is a choice. Once you choose to see your spouse as an adversary to conquer, there is really not much good stuff that can follow.

3. Nobody wins. Fights have winners and losers. Even when you win a fight, you do so at the expense of your partner, the relationship, and therefore, your own expense as well.

4. It's a lousy model for your kids. Kids almost always know when something is going on, because they have such good antennae and pick up on much more than we would like to admit. From their parents, children can learn that marriage is a battle ground or a good place to be.

5. It devalues your feelings. If there were an unlimited amount of gold available, then how much would gold be worth? It's the same way with anger. If you get angry at everything, then your anger means nothing. One of the most important skills in resolving conflict is learning how to pick your battles.

6. It creates bad associations. Couples who fight regularly develop negative and painful patterns of interaction that take on a life of their own and run automatically. After they have been run enough, all you have to do is see your spouse's face or hear his or her voice and you automatically react with anger. This creates an atmosphere of anger and more distance between people.

7. It creates bad memories. Over time, constant fighting diminishes and overshadows the positive memories, creating a history of mainly bad memories.

8. It's lousy foreplay. There are those who say the kissing and making up is worth the fighting, but there are better ways to get there. Fighting creates distance and leaves resentments to fester and grow.

9. The words said during fights can wound and leave scars. Part of the covenant of marriage is you are given your partner's heart to hold in your hands and care for it. Wounding and scarring is not taking good care of a heart.

10. There are other options. One of many options is the 3 C's of resolving conflict: compromise, capitulate, co-exist. Compromise is to find a solution, or series of solutions, that satisfy as many needs as possible for both partners.

Capitulate does not mean to give in. It does mean that in some conflicts, the issue is very important to one and not so important to the other. It means one defers to the other.

Sometimes two people will see an issue in entirely different ways. You can agree to disagree and peacefully co-exist on the issue.

Jeff Herrring, MS, LMFT is a marriage and family therapist, relationship coach, speaker and nationally syndicated relationship columnist, and founder and CEO of http://www.SecretsofGreatrelationships.com. You can email Jeff at [email protected] and sign up for his free internet newsletter "Great Relationships Tip of the Week" on his website at http://www.SecretsofGreatRelationships.com

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