Is There a Right Way to Fight?

Let me start by stating the obvious: No married couple can stay together for years without having an occasional fight. We may vow that all our disagreements will be civil and polite, but chances are that we will not manage that all the time (or even very often…).

Many marriage books and websites encourage people to argue calmly and set all kinds of ground rules for disagreeing. But when we are in the throes of anger, this kind of advice is not likely to be heeded. Instead, focus on one thing – ending the fight as soon as possible.

The reason we often get sucked into arguments that is that we insist on proving that we are right. But the best outcome of a fight is actually that it ends, not that it resolves the problem. When you find yourself repeating the same thing over and over, making broad and unfair accusations (you never take my side, you only think about yourself, etc.) and using disrespectful language, it’s time to stop.

A Jewish home is considered a mikdashme’at, a minor sanctuary, and as such it needs to be a safe and secure place for the entire family. Keep in mind that children often witness arguments, and that both they and the couple can feel unsafe and unloved when their home is a place of tension and anger.

De-escalating a fight may require walking away or deciding together to table the discussion for now. Once rage has subsided, it’s time to restore peace and harmony. Even if the fight started because of something insignificant, you need to move on from it and make up. It’s important to soothe hurt feelings, apologize for what was said and make your spouse feel safe again.

When a fight is based on a genuine disagreement, it’s best to revisit the issue at another (calmer) time. That’s where conflict resolution and problem-solving skills come in handy. When you’re not angry and upset, you can look at an issue more objectively and work on a compromise which is acceptable to both of you. This will prevent you from fighting about the same issue over and over.

What are your tips for ending a fight as quickly as possible?

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