Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rules of Engagement

Hubster and I don't fight.

When I tell people this, there is usually the reaction that either I am lying or delusional. Some people have gone so far as to say that if we don't fight, it must mean that our relationship lacks passion; that fighting is "healthy" for relationships.

I disagree. Fighting is not necessary. Or beneficial.

When I say that we don't fight, I don't mean to imply that we never disagree. It would be unrealistic to think that two individuals would agree on everything. There are a multitude of things that we disagree about.

But we don't fight about it.

It's not always easy. Probably more for me, because I get very worked up over things and cry easily.

But we have rules. Rules for disagreements that have prevented us from fighting.

I'm not calling myself a relationship expert. And I'm not bragging. Or trying to say that my relationship is better than someone else's. But these rules have worked well for us. And I wanted to share them. Just in case.

Here they are..

1. Keep on subject. Don't bring up old arguments. Don't add, "And do you know what else bothers me...?"

2. Don't call names. Ever.

3. Don't attack the other person's occupation.

4. Don't attack the other person's education.

5. Don't attack the other person's family members.

6. Don't break things. Or slam doors.

7. It's okay to leave the room. But don't storm out.

8. If you need to, take a time out. If the conversation is getting heated, just stop talking, wait until you are calmed down, then try again.

9. Avoid talking about topics you disagree about in front of other people (related or not). It may just embarrass the other person and add more emotional fuel to the fire.

10. Don't yell.

I'm sure that I'm making this sound overly simplistic and easy. I'm not saying that. But it gets easier with practice.

Using these rules, we've gone eight years of marriage without a fight. (And please note: I did say fight, not disagreement. Just wanted to clarify that point one more time.)

I'm working on a list of rules about how to approach my children. Because I can get grumpy with them. More than I should. I've raised my voice to my children. While Hubster and I have never raised our voices to each other.

(However, it is true that Hubster does not color with marker on the furniture, or hit his siblings with baseball bats, or dump bowls of applesauce on the floor. He also does not try walking as slowly as possible when I am in a hurry. Or lick windows in stores.)

I realized just the other day that I need rules for me regarding them.

That's a work in progress.

There is one more things. For when all other rules fail. I love the person sitting across from me. Is winning this disagreement really more important than their feelings?

The goal of our marriage was not to sacrifice things we believe in or feel passionately all for the sake of just being able to say that we've never had a fight. I could just start agreeing with everything Hubster says, for no other reason than to keep the peace. But that would make our relationship less meaningful.

The goal was to be able to trust each other enough to feel that we can express our opinion, even if it differs from that of the other person, without being attacked.

That in this world, so full of people treating each other so horribly, that our marriage can be a safe haven.

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