The following characteristics are involved:
• SEPARATENESS: Each partner is an individual and should not be upset by the other's need to have private time or different priorities (although widely diverse interests may impose a strain upon the relationship).
• EQUALITY: Each partner is prepared to relate as equal adults, neither one wishing to take charge of nor submitting to the domination of the other.
• FLEXIBILITY: Neither partner maintains rigid roles. Each is capable of being the weaker or stronger one. The masculine and feminine sides of each can be expressed.
• CLOSENESS: Each partner is able to stay physically and emotionally close to the other, and to express and tolerate the other's expression of strong emotion.
FAIR FIGHTING RULES
• NO ZAPPING. No name–calling, snide remarks, put–downs or negative facial expressions.
• DON'T INTERRUPT. Let the other person finish before you speak.
• NO CROSS–COMPLAINING. When the other person complains, don't answer with a complaint.
• NO BRINGING UP THE PAST. Don't use ”always”, ”never”, ”should”, ”if only once you would...” –stick to here and now, not history.
• STICK TO THE ISSUE. Don't distract from the issue and don't be distracted.
• NO PHYSICAL VIOLENCE ALLOWED. This is a firm guideline for effective fighting.
• DON'T PLAY MIND–READER. Don't try to tell the other person what they are thinking or why they are doing something. Don't make assumptions.
• NO EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL. ”If you really loved me, you would.....” – Avoid using love as a weapon or punishment.
• DON'T MAKE SPEECHES. State your gripe and let the other person answer. If the other person states a point, you must respond to it before making a new point. Answer questions directly.
• NEGOTIATE. State your gripe, suggest alternatives, look at the positive and the negative consequences of each alternative, and reach a solution.
• RECOGNIZE AND ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR OWN PROBLEMS, FEELINGS, AND BEHAVIORS. Use the word ”I” rather than ”you”.
• TIME OUT IS OKAY. If things get too heated, ask to continue the discussion at another time. Specify the time.
• BE ACCEPTING. Try to understand that both of you see things and react to them differently.
• PARAPHRASE. Make sure you heard the other person correctly. Restate what you think you heard.
• BE WILLING TO LISTEN. Sometimes just listening to each other helps improve the situation.
If you would like to speak with a counselor about these issues, please call Cascade Center's EAP for an appointment: 1–800–433–2320 .