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How to Fight Fair in Your Marriage

Keeping your spouse happy, and maintaining your own sanity in a marriage, can be challenging enough. Remembering to fight fair when tempers boil over is another story. There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy disagreement, and researches say fair fighting can actually strengthen a marriage. Follow these steps when you’re at odds with each other and avoid all-out nuclear war.

Come Clean. If something bothers you, say so. It’s a good idea to express your feelings in a calm and mature manner instead of bottling them up until something minor sets you off. That’s not fighting fair and will probably lead to you say something you don’t really mean.

Schedule It. Do you really need to get something off your chest, but your spouse has no desire to address it? That’s OK. Make time. Pencil-in a time when you both can sit down and talk about the issue. Cool heads will prevail and the extra time will give you both greater perspectives.

No (Pet) Name Calling. Obviously, fighting fair means no name-calling. Keep in mind that the tone and inflection behind pet names can be hurtful when used sarcastically. Granted, this doesn’t mean you must address your partner by the full legal name on their birth certificate, just be responsible enough to know that it’s not what you say but rather how you say it.

Sweeping Statements Are Messy. Newsflash: Words like "always" and "never" used during an argument are like verbal blasting caps. They can make things explode, like your spouse’s temper, for instance. Chances are, the two of you don’t live a life of absolutes. Leave damaging statements out of a disagreement and focus on the issue at hand.

And the Winner Is…Your marriage! Not just you. If you’re fighting for the sake of the fight, you need to examine your overall communication skills and possibly your relationship. Discussing an issue, defending your feelings or stating your point of view are valid reasons to engage in a heated debate. Fighting to gain dominance or to belittle your partner is not. Listen, be fair and always act within the best interest of the marriage.

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