FAIR FIGHTING RULES:
1). No use of physical aggression (includes hitting, slapping, pushing, wrestling, restraining etc…). NONE.
2). No yelling.
3). No use of profane language during moments of anger.
4). No name calling. EVER.
5). No arguing in front of others.
When angry, leave the situation if possible. This may mean going to a separate area of your home or going for a walk. Try to calm yourself down by taking depth breaths and counting to ten between each breath. The goal is to remove yourself from the anger provoking situation or environment.
If avoiding a confrontation is impossible, refer to the rules for “fair fighting”. If both parties cannot abide by the rules for fair fighting, then one should leave the situation. This is called disengagement. Never stay in a situation where you feel unsafe.
Do not talk to each other in the “heat” of anger.
Wait at least 1 hour following an argument to speak to each other. Do so only after both parties have calmed down. Use “I” language to explain feelings. If you feel that your partner is treating you unfairly or behaving in an inconsiderate manner explain how his/her actions make you feel by starting with “I feel hurt when you” _____________. Follow by explaining your feelings. For the partner hearing the criticism respond by saying, “I understand that when I____________you feel hurt”. This should be followed by a calm discussion about what may be done to minimize the occurrence of the offense and the hurt feelings associated with it.
The keep the lines of communication open schedule time to be together, just the two of you. It can be once a week. During this time, talk to each other about issues that have nothing to do with the negative aspects of your relationship. In fact, keep the conversation positive. Talk about what you like about each other!
Take time to discuss how the two of you are progressing with the changes you have made. Remember: This is not a contest or a debate. The two of you are simply, (calmly) relating your feelings about the good changes you have made and how it is affecting the relationship. Allow yourself to hear what your partner is saying.
Note: Partners should not use this time to try and manipulate or control their mate’s behavior. The purpose is to discuss how the relationship is functioning with the new positive behaviors in place. Read the following manifesto below. Then you and your partner should each read and sign your “contract” (it’s not legally binding so relax) with the goal of remaining committed to your new behaviors. Finally, if your plan fails, seek professional counseling so that you can explore what is causing the ongoing strife in your relationship and learn how to fix it!
Always remember: We cannot change other people. We can change how we respond to the actions of others and we can change ourselves. In relationships we must make choices. When dealing with people that we love but who have also hurt us, those choices are especially hard. We may choose to end a relationship if being in it becomes too painful and draining. If we choose to remain in a relationship where mistrust and pain has occurred, then we must weigh the pro and cons of the relationship. We must decide if the relationship is worth saving. We must also recognize how our actions contributed to the problems in the relationship. Then we must commit to dealing with our own issues separate from the relationship and we must make changes. We must also decide if we want to forgive. Forgiving is not forgetting. We learn by remembering and processing how we feel when we are treated a certain way. But forgiveness in a relationship means learning to trust a partner who is trying to change. We must acknowledge their efforts. Just as our partner cannot continue to behave as they have in the past, we cannot continue to bring up past offenses. Both parties must be consistent in their new behaviors. Change may include learning to stand up for oneself and becoming secure in ones own ability to move forward in life with or without a partner. We can develop ourselves so that we know that we will not fall to pieces if our partner is unable to change or if the relationship should end.
I_________________ agree to respect myself and my relationship by expressing my displeasure and concerns in a calm and rational manner. I will not hit, curse, or belittle my partner and I will not tolerate being hit, cursed, or belittled by my partner. I promise to continue working on the issues that are problems for me personally and those issues that are problems in my relationship. I will discuss my concerns with my partner like the intelligent adult I am.