Thursday, 21 July 2011

Rules of Engagement

If you must fight, do it with decorum. Just as boxing has its Marquess of Queensberry rules, a code of generally accepted rules, so you and your spouse should adopt your own set of rules when it comes to settling disagreements.

For example you might adopt some of the following conditions:
• No bringing up past mistakes.
• No sarcasm or name calling.
• No using terms such as “you always”, “you never”, etc.
• No introducing multiple topics into the conversation.
• No triangulating, i.e. bringing in others who would side with you
• No yelling or screaming
• No intense conversations should happen in front of children
• Absolutely no physical touch ( unless you are making up)

Often disagreements center around the same subject, i.e. money, disciplining the children, etc. Most likely the outcome will be the same – nothing gets resolved and both parties are frustrated (at best). Why not change the “game”?

Perhaps you could:
(1) Agree to just discuss the issue with no intention of resolving it. The sole purpose would be for each person to describe as unemotionally as possible what it is that is driving their particular view. For example, one of the partners may have grown up in a home where money was always tight and always an issue. Their fear of being in the same predicament (even if unfounded) would give reason to their concern.
(2) Agree to change sides. As debating teams often do in preparation for a competition, each of you argue the other person’s view point.

Sherlock Holmes
I’ve often quoted the passage in the book of James, i.e. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but you don’t get it…” Assuming that God has more insight into human nature than you and me it seems safe to say that our arguments are often caused because we as a couple desire a different outcome. Before you say, “No kidding Sherlock”, realize the desired outcome is being driven by an emotion, an experience, a self-centered proclaimed need.

Be honest with yourself and each other. “I’ve wanted a red sports car ever since I was seven.” Or, “I have dreamed all my life of having five children,” (which by the way will cost more than the sports car.) The point is that the basis for our position is not always the most rational of reasons. Such candor might do wonders to resolve the argument.

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