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3 Must-Use Strategies to Avoid a Fight

  • Dr. David B. Hawkins The Marriage Recovery Center
  • 2015 27 Oct
3 Must-Use Strategies to Avoid a Fight

Hal and Karen shared their story as they began their Marriage Intensive. Having been married for over ten years, they shared a history similar to most who come seeking my help. 

Asked how they tend to resolve issues in their marriage, Hal jumped in. 

“We don’t settle anything,” Hal said firmly. “We fight and fight until one of us withdraws into silence.” 

“Is that how you see things?” I asked Karen. 

“Absolutely,” she said. “We can both fight, and we both know how to get in the last word. “It’s terrible. If we don’t learn how to fight more effectively we’re not going to make it.”

“Actually,” I said, “I’m not going to teach you how to fight. I want you to avoid fights. I want you to see conflict ahead of time, recognize old habit and learn new ways of facing and healing conflict.” 

“That would be amazing,” Hal said. “We’ve always had heated personalities. I really can’t imagine doing things any way different than we’ve done them.” 

“I want to teach you three strategies for avoiding a fight,” I said. “Would that interest you?” 

“It will help us stay married and really enjoy each other,” Hal said. 

“We really do love each other,” Karen added. “We don’t want to fight, but it’s the only thing we know.” 

With that I shared several strategies every couple must know in order to avoid a fight. Practicing these strategies will not only help you avoid a fight, but will help you live happily together.

1. Anticipate conflict. If you been together longer than a month, you know you will have conflict and you can know how and when you’re going to have that conflict. It may be at the end of the day when you’re both tired. It may be when you’re both rushed and feeling pressure. Know the circumstances around which you tend to have conflict. 

One of my favorite sayings about conflicts in marriage is, “If it’s predictable, it’s preventable.” Anticipate conflict and learn all you can about that conflict. Scripture tells us, “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” (Proverbs 17: 14) 

2. Know your hot spots. Most couples have conflicts over specific issues. For many it has to do with money. With some it has to do with step-parenting issues. For others it has to do with intimacy and affection. Do you know your hot spots? 

3. Have an agreed upon way of collaborating about those hot spots. You cannot completely avoid hot spots, nor can you avoid having conflict about them. You can, however, have an agreed upon way of sitting down and talking about these issues. If you cultivate a respectful way of talking about issues, your skills will help you no matter what conflict arises. Just as the process is the problem, the process is also the solution. 

Perfect practice makes perfect. As you practice reflective listening, sharing feelings rather than judgments and validating each other’s point of view, you will be able to successfully navigate the toughest issues. These strategies form the foundation of any healthy marital house. 

In summary, anticipate conflict and know when it is about to occur. Know when to pull back, call a time out and choose times when you are best able to hear each other. Know your hot spots and have a healthy respect for them. Help each other in managing these hot spots. Finally, collaborate on solving problems, knowing that perfect practice makes perfect and you truly can live in harmony. 

 Practice these three strategies and notice how your relationship improves. Please read more about strategies for emotional growth and explore more about my Marriage Intensives at Send comments to me at [email protected] 

Publication date: October 27, 2015