I've said for sometime that the way to judge a relationship was by the two Fs - how well do you, well, you know what the one f stands for and how well do you fight. In the more recent past, I've come to believe that how a couple fights is really the most important thing in a relationship.
Fighting fair is a personal standard that I've adopted (or tried to). Respecting people and boundaries and being emotionally honest and mature is my goal. It's not I will if he will, it's I will, regardless. Fighting fair is a deal-breaker for me and it was equally important to Bick, so we've been setting up some ground rules as we go along, based on busted marriages and bad experiences that perhaps, could have been avoided.
1. No name-calling. This was mine. I have such a hard time ever getting over anything that is said to me, even in the heat of the moment. Once you've called someone some horrible name or said something with the intention of inflicting pain, it's really hard to unring that bell.
2. Keep to the point. This was Bick's. No wandering around looking back for things to bring up and fight about. Keep it in the here and now. Don't let resentments build up.
3. No yelling. This was mine. I can't deal with yelling.
4. The right to request a delay/time to talk about things. This was Bick's and it pissed me off the first time he used it - (we hadn't talked about it prior). He later explained to premise to me and it makes a bunch of sense and we've used this one a couple of times. The basics are this - if you don't feel like you are in a place where you can rationally discuss an issue, it will just escalate and end up being a fight about a bunch of crap. This option actually has two prongs - you can tell your partner that you have something you'd like to discuss and ask when would be a good time or if you are the askee, you can ask for a specific delay - "Can we talk about this tomorrow morning?" And then you just go about your business without being a brat. And the magic part of this is the "without being a brat" part. To me, it really shows committment to the relationship and partner - doing the good things, even when you're pissed.
So there they are. Are we perfect at it? No, but we both are committed to practicing these skills until we get them right. It's really more about good communication than actual fighting and this book
was very helpful in teaching some actual techniques when having tough conversations. I attended a day long workshop on this through my work about two years ago and I've been trying to work on this ever since. One of my character flaws is always being so defensive and I need to make it possible for a partner to tell me the tough stuff. And another flaw is that I can be very verbally aggressive - it's the fighting style I grew up around and it's a bad habit that I've been working hard to break.
Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. Get to the heart of the matter.