Courteous Contesting (aka Fair Fighting)

 Here at Affaircare we love the number seven.  We have seven steps to ending the affair…and seven steps to rebuilding after an affair…so we thought it would be fun to discuss the SEVEN steps to courteous contesting (aka “Fair Fighting”).

1. Choose to listen–validate and repeat back what you heard, even if you disagree.  They are opening up and telling you what they think and feel, and even if that isn’t your experience, tell them what you think they said.

2. Pick your moment–don’t escalate in the heat of anger but don’t put it off or it will become resentment.  If needed take a short break (10-15 minutes) so it doesn’t escalate.  Agree to a time when you both come back and resume.  If it gets past your normal bedtime agree to end for the night and be reassuring…and agree when you will resume the discussion the next day.  Don’t put it off hoping it will go away!  It won’t!  “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” ~Ephesians 4:26

3. Stay on topic–don’t chase around and be side-tracked, and don’t bring up the past.   Stay focused on the present discussion.  Once an argument is resolved it should be like our sins:  “…as far as the east is from the west,  so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” ~Psalm 103:12

4. Don’t hint or expect your partner to read your mind–ask questions, clarify but don’t judge.  For example, “It sounded to me like you meant XYZ.  Is that what you meant or did you intend that another way?”   “A gentle answer turns away wrath,  but a harsh word stirs up anger.” ~Proverbs 15:1

5. WTFS–To bring up the “fair fight” do not use “YOU” language (such as “You always tell me what to do!”) but rather use the format I call WTFS, which stands for “When you….” “I Think…” “I Feel…” “So I’m going to request…”  When you use that format you don’t blame but you do identify the issue, you explain both your thoughts and feelings so either a Thinker or a Feeler would be able to identify, and you make a request that would “fix it.”  Assuming it’s a respectful request your partner may very well be willing to do it!

6. Attack the issue not the person–rather than attacking your spouse, putting the two of you into opposition, attack the problem together as a team and brainstorm how to address it.  That way you two are working together.   “”Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” ~Matthew 12: 25

7. REPS–when you are wrong, and you know you are, rise to the occasion and admit you were wrong with an heavy-weight apology: I suggest doing some REPS!  That stands for Responsibility, Empathy, Plan, and Saftey.  So take Responsibility for what you did wrong and name it.  Make an Empathetic statement such as “I bet that made you feel…” or “I bet you thought ….”   Indicate your Plan on how you intend to change or grow, and what you’ll do differently next time.  And finally, give your spouse permission to do what they need to do in order to be Safe-whether that is physically safe or emotionally safe.