Oftentimes, people want to complain about their relationships being crappy and their communication is terrible, but few people make any effort to actually change. One of the things I love about being a Coach is the people that come to me are the people who genuinely want to be better at life! What an amazing opportunity to help people learn simple techniques that produce instant results! As we get closer to the month of LOVE and Valentine’s Day, I thought it was important to talk about some common struggles. Stop complaining, my friends, it’s time to take action! You can improve, or continue to suck.

Believe it or not, there are quick and easy ways to fix our most common issues. The top 2 issues I get calls for everyday are communication skills and conflict resolution. People know they don’t fight well, they know they are not getting anything resolved, but they have no idea what to do. Well, here is the beginning of your answer!

Here, we will look at 8 simple guidelines to better fighting. I promise you, almost everyone struggles with the same things! But with some work and practice it is easy to improve immediately and begin creating a new relationship for you and your partner.

#1  We Are On the Same Team

I believe this is one of the most important aspects that slips our minds as soon as we start to argue and feel defensive. WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM! We are not against one another and trying to take each other down, we are a team, trying to find a resolution to an issue. We are not fighting to beat our partner, we are fighting for our relationship. When in the midst of an argument remember that collectively, as a team, we attack the issue at hand. We do not attack each other.

#2  One Thing at a Time

 Many couples get in trouble here. When we do not work through a problem all the way to its resolution, we store that issue away and bring it up at a later date. I hear a lot of people say their partner will constantly bring up issues from months or years ago in every argument. This happens because those old arguments were never resolved. So here we are, one thing at a time. We do not leave an argument until it is worked through to its end, fully resolved. And in the midst of working through one issue, we don’t bring up past issues. It is important to work through past stuff so it will not continue to come up and so it doesn’t continue to build resentment in your partner. Sometimes this needs to be done with a professional who is objective and can help navigate communication to get old issues off the table and start fresh with a clean slate.

#3 Do Not Walk Away

Unfortunately, I see this a lot. Some people do not like confrontation and work to avoid it at all costs. This causes more friction and when one partner tries to leave or walk away it causes the other partner to feel unimportant and dismissed. Let’s be honest, none of us want to feel that way. As a couple, we cannot avoid issues and conflict. It is a part of being together and a part of any relationship whether it is romantic or not. Every friendship, family, co-worker relationship is going to have conflict at some point. It is important that we know how to work through these conversations and remain actively engaged in working toward a solution. If tempers flare it’s okay to take a minute, maybe walk away for a few minutes to regain composure, but tell your partner that’s what you are doing and return quickly. Again, a professional can help you develop some tools to make this easier and to make confrontation not feel like confrontation. Remember, if we want our partner to remain engaged in the conversation, we have to make it feel safe for them. No screaming or yelling or name calling.

#4 Listen, Understand, Validate

I heard this little gem on a television show, LUV. Whenever we do work on relationships these three components of communication are of utmost importance. It is imperative that we actively listen to our partners rather than just waiting for our turn to speak. Do not interrupt one another and cut each other off. It is disrespectful and the message says you think your thoughts are more important than the other person. That is really crappy and arrogant. Be quiet while your partner speaks, you will have your turn. Then, put some genuine effort into understanding their point of view. Your partner’s thoughts and opinions are equally as important as yours so try to see where they are coming from. Finally, offer some validation. This can be as simple as staying quiet while your partner is saying their piece then simply nodding your head and telling them you understand what they are saying. The biggest challenge in this important bundle is learning to keep our mouths SHUT!

#5 Don’t Get Personal

Okay, my friends. Sometimes I am surprised at how comfortable we can get with the things we say to the people we love. NO NAME CALLING. It is just that simple. Name calling should be off limits at all times. Not only can it cause damage that cannot be undone, it is just plain childish. Insulting our partners in any way instantly puts them on the defensive and shuts down all constructive communication. It is an awful feeling when the person that is supposed to love and protect you turns on you, demeans you, and/or tells you you are bad. It’s unacceptable. Our mode of fighting does not need to get personal or become a personal attack on the person we love. There are some easy fixes to this issue. Call your Coach to help you learn more effective ways to communicate the problems you are having without making personal attacks on your partner!

#6 Take a Time Out

Listen, it is okay sometimes to take a minute to collect your thoughts when an argument is not getting anywhere. How we do this is to communicate with our partner that I need a few minutes to walk around, or get a glass of water and a snack, or make a phone call to my Coach, and can we come back together in ten minutes and try again? This lets your partner know you are still actively wanting and seeking resolution, but you need a few minutes to think quietly. Also remember that you do not always have to agree. Sometimes the solution to an issue is to agree to disagree respectfully. We are not always going to see eye-to-eye on every issue and that’s ok! But it is important that we respect one another’s thoughts and opinions and reach a resolution together.

#7 Everybody Wins

As we get through challenges and difficult conversation I hope we all keep in mind that our goal is for everyone to win. All too often when couples fight they lose sight of the issue they are fighting about and the fight becomes solely about winning. I call this a lose-lose. If one or both parties are only fighting to win the argument then both people lose because there will be no resolution, defenses will be up, resentment will build, and this issue will get brought up again in the next argument. Approach a situation with an open mind and with the goal of both people winning! If I love you, I want you to win too!

#8 Let’s Celebrate!

Finally! When you come to an agreement and have some solid resolution to an argument, celebrate the victory! Treat yourselves to a movie or dinner, or maybe a coffee or ice cream date. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing together go and do it! This is a great reason to celebrate yourselves and your partnership- and don’t forget to say thank you to your partner for hanging in to the end and for working together to solve the problem!

Many of the couples I work with come to me for the same handful of issues. As we all know, relationships are hard work. It can begin to feel overwhelming and, sometimes, hopeless. It feels like our communication has gotten so bad we have no idea how to fix it, we start to avoid one another in the house, keep conversation to a minimum, and the discomfort and anxiety continue to build. This isn’t the relationship anyone wants. With some practice and patience everyone can get to a great place and make confrontation not so scary.

Call your Coach! 877.976.4196