Today we’re talking about how to fight fair and save your relationship.
We’re covering three main topics: reality arguments (the source of every fight).
The basic ground rules for a fight, and a detailed confrontational model that will literally save your relationship. You will learn to love fighting – it will give you deep intimacy and connection.
As a bonus, I put all of this together in a free pamphlet on my website. Be sure to check that out. You’ll want a guide to follow, and this lays it out simply and easily.
I want to help you develop intimacy and save your relationship. So many are falling apart because we’ve never been taught how to fight. Let’s change that.
We have to start with the reality argument – this destroys all relationships. A reality argument is based on me having a view of the world that’s different from yours.
What gets couples in trouble is demanding the other person accept their reality. If I hold up a Coke can and ask if you want a sip of water, you’d think I was crazy. Think about the fights you’ve had with your partner.
what have they been about?
You see a Coke can, and they see water, different realities. We can never change a person’s reality, and our desire to change the other person’s reality is about us, not them.
Each person has different views, memories, and interpretations of what’s been said and done. When we demand the other side accept our reality. That’s the problem.
The other person doesn’t have to accept our reality; they get to keep their own. When I demand you see the world, as I see it, I’ve lost containment, and I am now exercising something called negative control.
In addition, we have just made that person our higher power. We have given our personal power to them, and they now own us because our well-being is predicated on them accepting our reality.
I know you’re sitting there thinking,
“But it’s the truth; they have to see the truth!” I would agree with you completely. It’s true to you. But, they have their own truth. When we demand someone to accept our reality, it means they can demand that of us.
Flip the table. If someone demanded that of you, you wouldn’t accept it.
So how do we resolve having different realities?
First, both sides need to layout their morals, values, needs, wants, negotiable’s and non-negotiable in every area of their lives. Basically, sharing how each of you views the world.
Then, listen and see if your realities line up on these topics – see if it’s negotiable. Finally, with this new information, we get to decide if their reality goes against our morals, values, needs, wants, negotiable’s, and non-negotiable’s.
If they do, we may want to think about leaving the relationship.
You may go through these exercises and realize you and your partner have a lot in common – it’s just your recollection of events that don’t line up.
This is where we move to the second phase: the ground rules for the speaker and listener in a disagreement. This is the first step in turning the fights from confrontation into connection.
Using these ground rules will help us break free from the prison of the reality argument and start creating intimacy and connection.
You’ll find that when you use this process. After that, fights aren’t so scary.
1- The first ground rule for the person speaking is to moderate their emotions. So many times, we go into these arguments with our emotions on fire. It’s our responsibility to contain ourselves.
2- When we share any aspect of what we’re talking about, we commit no shaming, accusing, blaming, judging, yelling, screaming, or giving the other person advice.
3- Our goal isn’t to be right or to change their reality but to be known. We want someone to know who we are: that’s the goal as a speaker.
4- We never tell them what they should think or feel. Doing so would create a real argument. They get to think and feel what they want.
5- We never try to guess their emotions or read their minds. We want to refrain from making judgments about their actions or habits. Instead, we need to gather more information to understand what they’re really thinking or feeling.
6- The sixth step is critical: no one ever makes us feel anything – we always have the choice about what we feel about something.
A comment could make you laugh one day and make you really upset the next. We decide how to think and feel about something.
It’s critical to recognize whenever we say “you made me feel,” we aren’t taking responsibility for ourselves. We are demanding the other person take responsibility for us, and that’s not their job – that’s codependence. Love cannot exist with codependence.
7- We always use “I” statements.
The Seven ground rules for listening are:
1- We never interrupt, and we don’t take their blame. When someone loses containment, they may blame. We never take that on. Don’t accept it as truth, just as their feelings. Don’t interrupt to correct them. Listen to know them, not to be right or wrong.
2-We are responsible for our feelings and the words we are using. We need boundaries to achieve this. We also need boundaries to know if we should take a break from the conversation.
3- We listen to learn about the other person’s reality and view, not to form a defense. Defense is the first act of war. Instead, listen to learn about them.
4- If we’re ever unsure about their reality, ask for information. It’s our job to gather that information and clarity. Always try to do this in four sentences or less. Don’t try to sneak in your thoughts and feelings.
5- Own the truth. If the information they’re sharing is true, own it immediately. Remember, our goal as the listener is to learn more about them and take ownership of our side of the street.
6- If what they’re sharing is not your reality, detach yourself from the emotions. Listen without judgment and accept their reality is different. Don’t try to change it. You’re learning about your partner.
7- If necessary, after you’ve done the first six steps, negotiate a solution.
Now let’s move on to the confrontation model. I’m going to warn you: initially this will feel very uncomfortable, dry, and clinical. But, I can not express how important it is to learn and stick with.
As I shared in my book, my second marriage died the day we stopped using this process. We had used this confrontation model throughout our relationship, and our relationship was incredible.
One day we disagreed about something and were using the confrontation model.
My wife at the time was cooking at the stove while we were discussing a disagreement, and she turned to me and said, “Kenny, could you just stop all this and just tell me what you really think and feel.
Quit being so boundaries.” I’ll never forget it: I looked up at the popcorn texture on the ceiling and thought, “Don’t do it. She’s just scared.
You need to be strong for both of us.” Then I heard that too familiar voice, telling me that if I really loved her.
I am supposed to give her what she wants. Sadly, that is a harmful codependent message we have all been taught, and it is not loving, kind, or authentic.
I gave in to that destructive messaging and dropped my boundaries, spewing all my thoughts, feelings, and accusations. I went against all I laid out above. That one little yes where I gave myself away slowly crept in and killed our marriage.
It has been my experience that this same dynamic is at the heart of every relationship difficulty. Using the confrontation model will save your relationship – every couple I have worked with that uses this process has a flourishing relationship.
- The first step in the confrontation model is to share what you observed: just facts, no blame. Use “I” statements and avoid judging statements.
- Second, share how you chose to make yourself feel about what you observe.
- Third, ask for more information.
- Fourth, request a change by saying, “would you be willing.”
- Next, celebrate their no. Our goal is to make a request, not to get what we want. It’s not their responsibility to meet our needs and wants. We celebrate when they say no because we recognize it frees us and is loving.
Think about how most relationships end? Each person exclaims how they did A, B, and C for the other person and never received X. That means both parties said yes to things they wanted to say no to. They were manipulating and bribing their partner to get what they want. That is why the most loving thing we can hear our partner say is no.
Some of those “no’s” may go against your morals and values, so step six is to share what you’ve decided to do for yourself about the situation.
Step seven: we meet the need ourselves. Before we confront, we have a backup plan in place if our partner refuses to meet the change or request we make.
Again, it is wonderful when our partner’s needs and wants match ours, but it is always our responsibility to meet them ourselves.
How would this look in practice? I’ll give an example: a common fight is about intimacy.
Here’s how you’d start: you’d request to have a discussion about the intimacy in the relationship and ask if it’s something you could schedule. You negotiate a time. Say you’ve both negotiated, shown up, and are present for the conversation.
Here’s how the conversation would go:
“It’s been my observation that, over the last three months.when I’ve tried to be intimate, I recollect that I hear no. About that, I make myself feel sad, rejected, insignificant, ugly, unwanted. So I was wondering if you’d be willing to give me more information as to why we’re not intimate.”
Do you notice that there were no “you” statements, only a sharing of my reality and a request for information.
They may have said something like,
“What do you mean? We were intimate two weeks ago.”
Obviously, they didn’t use the confrontation model. If they had, the response would’ve been,
“I really appreciate you sharing. What I think I hear you saying is over the last three months.
you have no recollection of us being intimate at all. About that, you feel sad, rejected, unwanted, ugly, and a couple of other feelings that I can’t recall. Do I hear you correctly?”
The model is to give back what we heard and show that we’ve listened. They would then follow with,
“You asked for more information. Are you ready to hear that right now?”
You would say yes, and they would say something like,
“My recollection is, two weeks ago, when we went over to Bob and Suzy’s for their dinner party,
we both had a drink or two, and I remember coming home and us doing A, B, C that led to intimacy. Do you have any recollection of that happening at all?”
Do you see the difference in that? The former reply was defensive, and the speaker would’ve never felt cared about or heard.
Instead, the listener made sure to empathize with them and see if they heard the other person correctly and shared their reality maturely and moderately.
Let’s say neither could agree on the reality. Then the speaker could request a change.
I’ve heard that our realities aren’t the same. I’ve recently realised that I require more intimacy in our relationship. I was wondering whether you’d be willing to commit to weekly intimacy. Does that suit you?”
Let’s assume the other person says no, coming back with making sure they heard them right, but saying it doesn’t work and once a month is enough intimacy for them.
Then the speaker says they have to go off and think about it and let them know what they decide – they’ll see if it can fit their needs and wants.
The example I gave is tough to meet the need ourselves – we all deserve physical intimacy. Therefore, it could create a problem for some people, and they may have to consider the relationship as a whole.
I hope this helped you – I again urge you to print out the free PDF for you and your partner.
I guarantee that if you get past the uncomfortableness, it becomes very normal and connecting and will save your relationship, and that is ultimately what I want for you.
Enjoy The Journey 🕺🏼
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