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Fighting Better

I've been told that the first year of marriage is the hardest. I always thought this would not apply to my new husband and me. After all, we've been together for over a decade. We've been through every hurdle and obstacle we could possibly be thrown. How much harder could marriage be? Turns out, it is harder. I think there's something about marriage, especially a new marriage, that makes a couple think they're invincible. You can't break up because you just got married! ...Right?

Well, it turns out that even newlyweds aren't invincible. Relationships - new, old, established, and honeymooning - take effort. You can't get lazy just because you're comfortable. You can't fall into bad habits just because you know you will eventually get over it. Because the day will come that the final straw snaps. No one wants that. So my husband and I are taking a pause as we approach month four of our marriage and we are vowing to fight better.

Fighting is inevitable. When you live with a person, you are bound to disagree. But that doesn't mean that it's ever okay to resort to yelling, slamming doors, and name-calling. My husband and I used to fight very well. We did not raise our voices. We were always kind, above all else. We understood that neither one of us was perfect. And somewhere along the way, we forgot how to fight like this. And it's becoming glaringly obvious to us both that it cannot continue. After all, we just made a lifelong commitment to each other, something neither of us took lightly. Divorce is not in our vocabulary, so we're making some changes and setting some rules.

1. No yelling.
If you think you're going to yell, take it to another room and come back when you're calm.

2. Absolutely no name-calling.
This is your partner and you need to respect each other. Resorting to name-calling is childish and ineffective.

3. No pointing out obvious flaws. 
Chances are, your partner is already acutely aware and does not need you shedding light on it at the present moment.

4. Touch each other.
Seriously. Try being angry with someone when you're holding their hand. It's not easy. Anger fades faster this way.

5. Therapy is healthy.
No one likes going to therapy. It can make you feel like all of your worst habits and traits are on display and being nitpicked. But therapy is helpful and healthy and sometimes necessary. Know when to call in a professional to help.

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