No matter how compatible or “in love” you are, conflict is to be expected in any relationship. But what if you are having the same fights with your partner over and over again, and failing to resolve them? What if you seem to argue non-stop? Does frequent rowing indicate a rocky relationship?
Most relationship experts say that having arguments are natural in any marriage. But here are tips to keep the fights in check:
HOW TO FIGHT FAIRLY
- Stick to the main point. Do not sidetrack into other grievances or backtrack into old arguments.
- Be specific about the outcome you want. For example, “I need you to bathe and feed the children on Thursday night”.
- Start with a soft, gentle tone. If you start angry and hard, it will go hard.
- Remain calm and composed. “For instance, if your partner keeps looking at his watch, don’t snap, ‘You always do that!’. Instead, try, ‘Maybe I have chosen the wrong time to bring this up. When can we talk?’” It sounds less accusatory and is more likely to get you a result.
WHAT THE EXPERT SAYS
Marriage mediator and counsellor Chia Swee Tin, offers helpful tips to a stronger relationship.
- Negotiate, don’t retaliate. Look for a win-win situation and remember that both of you lose if there is a fall out. “In the end, why pay the lawyer to ‘retaliate’?” reasons Swee Tin.
- If you don’t want to hear, at least ‘pretend’ to listen. Even if you are angry, you have to show that you respect his opinion. Everyone wants to feel understood, or at least that their partner is trying to understand them. “You don’t want to end up having to pay an expensive family therapist just to listen to the both of you, do you?” Swee Tin points out.
- Take a drive with him. That alone is good practice in conflict management. Ask yourself: Were the two of you happier at the beginning of your journey than when you arrived?
- Think like a business person. It is better to lose 50 sen in order to make a dollar, says Swee Tin. Likewise, in your marriage, it is just as important to choose the right battles to lose as it is to win the right ones.
- Go for regular marriage enrichment activities. Nurture your marriage with help from experts. Check out Focus On The Family for their group marriage enrichment programmes and Rekindle International Marriage & Family Therapy Center for one-on-one marriage guidance.
WHAT REAL WOMEN SAY
“Don’t interfere with issues involving the in-laws”
“Not every man likes his family issues interfered with. So, I have learnt to keep boundaries when it comes to my husband’s family, and to give him that space,” says Hasmah Abdul Rahman, 43, Support Officer, who has been married for 22 years, with two children, aged 20 and 16.
“For married life to be balanced, the relationship with in-laws must be happy, so I try to meet their expectations of a good daughter-in-law by visiting them regularly. But I draw a firm line at getting involved, and I will not step in or voice out my opinions during their family discussions unless I am asked. Besides, only the family itself will understand the situation and can make a better decision than I can.
“I also ensure I solve my own family issues with my siblings, and will not get my husband involved. By keeping our family issues separate, we have more time for our own family – and one less potential problem area in our marriage!”
“Don’t go to bed angry”
It’s important to resolve conflicts quickly, says Pushpa Kallet, 49, a corporate communications manager who has been married for 11 years, with two children, aged 21 and 19.
“Let the small things remain small. I have learnt not to go to bed angry, but to settle our differences before sleep. Quarrels that fester can be harder to resolve over time.
“Do not allow your emotions to work you up to the point where you say things that you would not usually say and do not mean. This is especially true as couples become more familiar with each other; it is easier to be less careful with what one says. I try to guard against that by reminding myself to treat him as he deserves: The man I chose and love.
“Always treasure him, and when you love him for who he is, you will realise that there really isn’t much to quarrel about. Remember why you love him and that he always has good intentions, even if his methods may be somewhat different from yours.”
Photo: TPG News/Click Photos