Marriage is not about winning arguments—it's about winning the relationship, Rabbi Shmuley says. When couples fight dirty, they end up prolonging their pain and creating lasting wounds and rifts, he says. But when couples fight fairly, they actually build more understanding and intimacy.
Rabbi Shmuley shares his eight rules of fighting fairly, which he defines as conveying your point of view legitimately in order to achieve a consensus.
Eights Rules of Fighting Fairly
- Never use name-calling, slurs or insults. Also, don't make fun of your partner's body, weight or other things over which they have no control.
- Never refer to the person as being a certain way, rather just refer to their behavior as being a certain way. "Never criticize character—criticize behavior," Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Never bring your spouse's family into an argument. This will only make your partner more defensive and less willing to hear your perspective, he says.
- Do not speak in anger. Control your behavior and calm down before you say anything you may later regret.
- Don't cut each other off. Wait until your partner finishes, then state your point of view.
- Don't yell. Shouting and screaming is especially harmful for children to witness. "There's never an excuse for yelling," Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Don't go to sleep without resolving an argument. The longer an argument is drawn out, the harder it becomes to end it. It's better to stay up all night and resolve your differences than to go to bed upset, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Apologize. If you hurt your spouse, you must apologize. Remember, marriage isn't about proving who's right and who's wrong—it's about having a strong, loving relationship.
"Better to lose an argument and win a relationship, than win an argument and lose a friend."