Fighting, by nature, is unpleasant. There's no great way to do it, but some methods are more productive than others. Fighting fairly is a learned skill, so I'm sure we've all pulled out some less-than-fair tricks. But fighting dirty can ruin relationships and marriages. In fact, psychologists can predict what marriages will last by observing how couples fight.
When two partners withdraw and refuse to talk, it's a hopeless situation. When one partner makes an earnest attempt to discuss the problem, but the other person withdrawals, it's still a hopeless situation. Walking away to calm down is a smart tactic, but if the problem isn't discussed later then nothing's ever solved.
So how do you recognize an unfair tactic in the moment? Familiarize yourself with these eight signs of dirty fighting below.
- Ignore: Like I said above, leaving the room to calm down can help you avoid saying something you regret, but ignoring someone for hours, days, or weeks is passive aggressive and not at all productive.
- Cross-complain: This is responding to a complaint with another complaint. "You did X." "Well, you did Y." You may feel justified, but if it's not about the same thing then it's irrelevant.
- Instigate reactions: Maybe you don't think he cares, so you test his concern by challenging his calm demeanor and saying something upsetting. It's a dangerous slope!
- Use sarcasm: I love sarcasm, but fighting is not the time to display your magnificent sense of humor. Plus, sarcasm at the expense of a significant other usually backfires.
- Teach lessons: Rather than discuss what you're mad at, you decide to teach a lesson or give a taste of his own medicine. But this isn't really teaching, it's revenge.
- One-up him: A more sophisticated method of teaching lessons. Say you're mad that he went out with his friends, so you take off and don't come home until morning. Nothing gets solved, and now you're both, understandably, angry.
- Change the subject: Instead of participating in the discussion, you start talking about everything you do for him.
- Fight to win: If you just want to prove how right you are, then everyone will lose.
Have any to add?