This month, my husband (who also happens to be the man our six kids call “Dad”) and I will celebrate our 11th Wedding Anniversary. These years include 4 moves, 2 graduations, and 4 adoptions. More impressively, we are still blissfully married after over 7 years of living in the same house as my parents.
Since I tend to the side of anti-confrontational, I wish “blissful” was synonymous with “we never fight.” However, we all know conflict is inevitable. I am not talking about the nit-picky squabbling over silly things such as which route is the quickest way home or whether the toilet paper should be over or under (over, obviously). In our relationship, those conversations are more like our love language. I’m talking about those draw-your-line-in-the-sand, emotionally-invested, ends-in-wild-passionate-lovemaking blowouts.
Here are some ground rules we do our best to fight by:
- Never attack each other’s character. I may vehemently disagree with a decision he made or is making, but one of the reasons I married him is because I respected his character.
- Be slow to speak and choose your words wisely as you cannot take them back. Whoever said, “…words can never hurt me,” was lying. But, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” was pretty good advice.
- Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. When I get behind enemy lines, I can
better convince him to come to my sideremain more compassionate in my arguments and am quicker to suggest a compromise.
- Work to get on the same side of the problem. We can either see it as him against me or both of us against the problem. And, we make a darn good team, if I do say so myself.
- Try to keep the volume low. Lower volume tends to keep our emotions from escalating. I dare you to have your next fight in whispers.
- Stick it out until it’s resolved. This is a hard one. Okay, they’re all hard. But, seriously, we never leave or go to sleep angry. Sometimes we’ll take some time to think and process, but we always get to a resolution without leaving or sleeping.
- Don’t bring up past misdeeds. This is a lot easier if you do #6 each time.
- Be the first to apologize. The truth is it takes two to tango and two to fight. If you’re honest with yourself, there is something for which you can apologize. If not, make something up. Nothing can take the fuel away from a fight like a good apology.
- Always try really hard to remember how much you loved the other before the fight. If you haven’t mastered getting on the same side, at least remember that the person on the other side is not your mortal enemy but the person who you vowed to love ’til death do you part.
- Confirm your love and commitment. Admit it, there’s something special about make up sex.
I won’t pretend we always pull these off without a hitch or that we have a perfect marriage. We’ve yelled and screamed, thrown things, said hurtful things, and cried bitter tears with the best of you. However, over the years, we’ve found that these guidelines allow us to voice our opinions (even conflicting ones) without sacrificing our relationship. In fact, our bond now is exponentially stronger than it was when we naively said, “I do.”
Do you have any “draw-your-line-in-the-sand” ground rules ?