Tips for less fighting with your spouse

One of my main roles as a counselor is to play referee in marriage counseling. I help couples learn to solve problems together and learn healthy communication habits. Read below for tips to reduce fights with your spouse. 

1. Discuss solutions for "next time"
When mishaps happen, it's important to discuss how to avoid that same fight in the future.
When each spouse is calm, sit down and talk about what went wrong that led to the fight. Discuss what feelings were hurt, what assumptions were incorrect, or what actions were offensive. Allow each partner to share their side of the story, and use listening skills. For tips on listening skills visit this website.
If there is the potential for another fight, go to a restaurant to discuss the issue. You are less likely to fight and get animated in public. A quiet restaurant will encourage each spouse to keep their voices calm as solutions for "next time" are resolved. Read here for more information about problem solving communication.

2. Don't yell with an audience present
Try not to yell or attack your spouse when other people are listening. An audience can include your kids, your in-laws, friends, or strangers. The attack words you say in front of others can linger in their minds, and it may be hard for others to forget what you said in the heat of the moment. Insults have a way of sticking to memories.
With friends or family members, the awkwardness of the fight may make them feel as if they need to take sides, which breeds tension for future interactions. Attacking your spouse in front of the children can create uncertainty and fear at home. Children need home to be a stable place. Fighting should be done away from the children. 
There is a difference between small disagreements (which would be healthy for children to see you resolve in a positive way) and full on fighting in front of the children.
If you are struggling to resolve problems or restrain from fighting, read here.

3. Understand different goals and time lines
Remember that a marriage is between two people. Two different people. Two different people that have different opinions about when and how to accomplish a task. Have patience and compassion for each other's requests and beliefs.

4. Don't use your spouse as a stress punching bag
Learn how to reduce your stress in a healthy way. Then discuss your frustration in a calm, healthy way.

5. Express gratitude and compliments in public
Tell others about the kind things your spouse says or does. Tell your spouse "thank you" in front of an audience, even for small things. For instance, I love to compliment my husband in front of my mother-in-law. I like her to know that she raised a wonderful man.

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