Getting Along Over the Holidays
Whenever two people live together, disagreements will naturally follow. That�s a given. The question is, how do we resolve them? If our end goal is to enjoy ourselves over the holiday season, then getting along with our spouse is going to play a major part in that process, and establish a few ground simple ground rules are key. We could call this fighting fair. And there�s a big difference. All-out arguing only aggravates our situation, whereas fighting fair produces respect and appreciation for each other, while finding ways to absorb those differences in the relationship. Fighting fair means putting �us� before �me.�
Like two coaches, two business heads, or two civic leaders, their viewpoints may differ greatly, but they both share a common goal�to promote and strengthen the organization they represent. No one works to take down their own organization. If they do, they won�t be around long.
Likewise, in marriage, when we disagree, the end goal of that disagreement should be to make the union stronger, not weaker. Yes, it requires work. It�s always easier to tear something down than it is to build it up. But what are you left with if you succumb to the latter? Anything of value in life requires effort. No one rises to the top of their career without the constant application of effort. And even then, one misstep can undo years of hard work. It�s a delicate balance�and one that requires our constant vigilance.
Learning to get along during challenging moments requires both spouses applying themselves to this effort. One person alone can�t do it. You could liken it to two people carrying a stone; if one lets go, the rock will fall�and falling rocks hurt.
Fighting fair means that you argue over issues without attacking the other person. Criticisms, insults, �the silent treatment� and other responses designed to punish or hurt the other person�we all know them�don�t resolve issues, but instead intensify them and build resentment, which takes us in the opposite direction.
Fighting fair also means keeping it private. Nobody wants their dirty laundry aired in front of others. It becomes even more hurtful when it�s done by someone we love�and who we want to believe loves us. It�s really not that difficult. In fact it�s almost as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Establish ground rules. You both know that the holidays can bring differences to the forefront, so outline a way of handling them before bad habits have a chance to develop�and follow the rules once you establish them.
2. Honor not just the rules, but the intent of the rules as well. For instance, if one of the ground rules is to not shout at one another, and instead of shouting, one spouse storms out of the room in anger, it�s pretty obvious that the rule, which was established to show respect for the other person, has been violated.
3. Orient your thinking to look for solutions. This has less to do with the problem itself than what you hope to accomplish. For instance, Mother Teresa, when once asked to join a march against war, she responded, �No, I won�t join in a march against war, but I�ll be happy to join you in a march for peace.�
Peace to the world has been a long-standing holiday theme. In ancient times, winter festivities renewed people�s spirits and served as a reminder that warm sunny days were soon to follow. Don�t let the commercialism surrounding the event distract you from why you�re celebrating it. The holidays are about renewed life, good cheer, and bringing peace to the world. Let the spirit of the season ring, but let it ring loudest in your own home.
� James Bardot, author of Angry Divorc�s Anonymous, has founded several companies, holds two patents, and has worked as a private investor and business coach. Recently, he served on the Executive Committee of Tech Coast Angels, the nation�s leading group of private investors in technology startup ventures. After two unsuccessful marriages, James turned his attention to bringing greater public awareness to the preventable damage caused by divorce and helping couples find the happiness they seek. He conducts workshops and is available for speaking engagements. James is the devoted father of three boys and lives in Southern California. For more information, visit www.angrydivorces.com