fight fairly, first of all, you need to know why you are mad. For example, if
you are over-reacting because you have had a bad day or because you are
displacing anger from another person, that isn't fair. Then you and the other
person (who lied) need to talk about how to fix the situation; you can even
cry and shout about how upset or hurt you are, but no name-calling, no nasty
put downs, no terrible threats, etc. Find out his/her viewpoint; get the facts.
Stick with the current problem, don't dig up old grudges. Finally, state your
views, hurts, fears, and preferences clearly; arrive at an "understanding," if
possible, and an acceptable arrangement for the future.
Some therapists (Bach & Wyden, 1968) believe that frustrations especially
in an intimate relationship are better expressed--fully and dramatically-than
suppressed. Yet, few relationships could survive frequent, uncontrolled, all-
out expressions of raw, negative, permanently hurtful emotions. So, there are
guidelines for verbally fighting in such a way that the couple can vent their
feelings, resolve their conflicts, and continue liking each other. See method
#5 in chapter 13.
I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.
Hold back your anger. Act like a mature, responsible adult. Like the
debate about catharsis, therapists disagree about the best way to handle
anger towards a loved one. Mace & Mace (1974) and Charny (1972) point out
that anger is the greatest destroyer of marriages. Thus, instead of "fighting,"
as just suggested, they recommend that you (a) admit your anger, (b)
moderate or control it, and (c) ask your partner for help in figuring out what
two committed, caring people can do about the situation. Then work out an
agreement. This is not a total suppression of anger, i.e. the conflict is
resolved, but the intense emotions are never expressed as they are in fair
"I" statements express anger constructively. There is great skill in
knowing when, where, and how to resolve conflicts. Here are some steps to
consider when planning how to handle a situation that upsets you:
a. Have we chosen a time and place where both of us feel free to
discuss our problems? If the other person brings up the problem at a
bad time, tell him/her that you are also eager to resolve the problem
and suggest a better time or place.
b. Have I tried to find out how the other person sees and feels about
the conflict? Ask questions to get his/her point of view. Give empathy
responses (#19). Don't counter-attack. Put yourself in his/her shoes.
Understanding will replace anger.