The hormone shifts and roller coaster emotions that occur before and after having a baby tend to shorten our fuse and set us up for spontaneous combustion. We’re more vulnerable to saying and doing things that aren’t “like” us. Those closest to us are likely also feeling squeezed in the vice of a major life transition and in need of some extra TLC.
When you find yourself hot and bothered, pause a moment and remind yourself that in the bigger scheme of things, you and your loved ones are on the same side. The tiffs that arise before and after the arrival of a baby can become a potential launching pad for increased understanding and emotional intimacy. You don’t have to let disagreements chip away at your love or tear apart your relationship.
Here are 6 Secrets to a Fair Fight that can help restore balance, shield your marriage from harm, and strengthen your love muscles:
6 Secrets to Fight Fair When Pregnancy and Post-Partum Emotions Run Wild
Accurately hear your partner’s view.
This means you and your spouse take turns listening and reflecting back what you have heard each other say about the issue on the table. The goal is to make sure you both feel accurately heard, and clearly “get” what the other is communicating. Feeling heard diffuses tension. (Keep in mind, understanding is not the same as agreeing.)
The wise are known for their understanding,
and pleasant words are persuasive. ~ Proverbs 16:21 (NLT)
Act like your partner’s needs are as valued as your own, and your needs are as valued as theirs.
Different needs and different views are expected and respected in healthy relationships; no couple agrees on everything. During disagreements, we agree to talk with respect and show that we value our loved one and what they have to say. If fiery words or actions devalue either party, make an agreement to disengage from the discussion and return to the topic after the smoke clears with an attitude of kindness and respect.
Take responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings.
If you are mad, take responsibility for how you feel. Don’t blame your partner for your anger.
Your anger is fueled by how you choose to view a situation and what you tell yourself about it. You always have choices. Positive change is more likely to occur when you own your own stuff. Good anger management sounds like this:
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You don’t make me mad; I make me mad.
Share the truth in love about what you think and feel.
It is your job to communicate what is going on in your mind and heart. It is not your partner’s job to automatically know, to guess, or to figure out what you are thinking or feeling. They cannot read your mind and you cannot read theirs. When we share the truth in love, we create a safe place for our spouse to be more open with us.
Release each other from unspoken expectations.
While you may have ways that you’d like your partner to respond to you, you cannot control their responses. You can tell them what you need and want, but only they can decide how to respond to your needs in ways that work for them.
Do yourself a favor: release your spouse from doing things the way you have pictured in your mind and give them the freedom to respond as they wish.
Keep reaching across the gap.
Like an Ultimate Fight Championship, ongoing conflict tends to drive us apart, to separate corners of the arena. Dr. John Gottman, a research scientist who has studied thousands of couples for over the last 30 years, says the happiest marriages are not those with the fewest conflicts.
Great marriages have many good fair fights. The happiest marriages are those where both parties consistently reach across the gap to each other. Regardless of the many pressures, difficulties, and unexpected challenges life delivers, they keep reaching out to connect, nurture, and repair their relationship.
In those chaotic moments when the pre-and-post-baby hormones are raging, and you feel like you’re going to blow your lid, pause and breathe (Learn how to use Tactical/3-D Breathing here). Review the 6 Secrets to a Fair Fight. Think through what you want to say and how you want to say it.
Restoring your own balance first empowers you to intentionally reach across the gap and successfully solve the conflicts with those who matter most to you. Now that’s a secret worth sharing.