Rules of Engagement for Relationships


Rules of Engagement for Relationships

How many of you have rules when you fight? Marriage Boot Camp has boiled down the top 8 rules if you want to have healthy, productive fights. The Rules of Engagement are for one goal: to give you success in managing conflict and getting rid of the bitterness that plagues your relationships.

1. Same TEAM

Know that you are fighting for your relationship, not to make a point, not to win, not to beat your mate down. Know that your mate is not your enemy.

2. One PLAY

ONE ISSUE ONLY! STAY ON TOPIC, don’t snowball! A rolling snowball picks up all the garbage in its path and gets bigger and bigger and becomes impossible to stop! Don’t bring up past arguments or other unresolved issues. This requires discipline! If you break this rule, the odds of you getting to a good solution are virtually nonexistent.

3. Stay In The Game

A famous coach once told his football players to “Play hurt” meaning that even if you get bumped and bruised, get past the pain and stay focused on the goal. If you are an avoider and you tend to run out on your team, then your relationships will suffer. Take it for the team!

4. M.V.P.

OK, maybe we stretched to get “P” Hope but MVP is an easy way to remember that your mate is the MOST VALUABLE PERSON to you.

Mirror – “What I heard you say…” This tool will stop the misunderstanding before it has a chance to start a fire. Stop and focus on what is being communicated. Put your own opinions, feelings and logic on hold for the moment and let your mate know that you truly hear them.

Validate – Make sure that, even if you don’t agree, that you VALUE your mate’s point of view. Let them know that you can see where they’re coming from and that you value their opinion.

Hope – Even when you’re mad as hell you can still communicate your hope for your relationship. I’m mad right now, but my hope is that we can get back to our friendship and our love.

5. Personal Foul

If you saw Vontaze Burfict’s personal foul, then you know the impact that you can have on your team. In the game of managing conflict, here’s our list of bad plays:

• Name Calling
• Cursing
• Button Pushing
• 3rd Party Testimonials (my sister thinks so too!)
• No Superlatives (never, always)
• No non-verbal’s (eye rolling, head shaking, etc.)

6. Time Out

Have you ever gotten over heated and said or done something that you wish you hadn’t? When this happens, you need to Back Off, Stop action and take a time out.

One word of caution, if you are a conflict avoider, this rule can become a weapon! Agree to get back in the game as soon as possible.

Take a 15-minute break, then check in to see if you can continue in a productive way.

7. SCORE – Win Win

Strive for mutually beneficial solutions. Understand that a “win” for all is better than just for one. NEGOTIATE, BARTER, COMPROMISE, SACRIFICE, be creative. You may not get 100% of what you want, but you can find happiness. So, would you rather be right or happy?

8. Spike the Ball!

Excessive celebration is highly encouraged! When you get through a tough conflict, make sure that you celebrate together! Go out for ice cream, have a happy hour, or everyone’s favorite – make up sex!


Rules of Engagement: Technology & Relationships | Turning Point Blog

Rules of Engagement for Relationships

First things first: technology and digital content has tremendously accelerated our society. In 2017, not only are we able to receive both world and local news in literal seconds, but our digital society has also given people the opportunity to connect with others around the world and gives social voices to those who would not have them otherwise.

On the other hand, over-consumption of technology and digital content can be harmful to our personal relationships. Often, social networking has negative effects on healthy relationships, sometimes putting the relationship itself in danger.

Think about how many times you’ve said something online or over text that you wouldn’t have normally said to that person face-to-face because it was hurtful.

Or, how many times you’ve ignored your parents or friends in person, while you scroll through your phone instead. Our smartphones have become such a distraction for us.

That’s why it’s important to admit how much we actually use our phones and what small changes we can make in regard to our tech habits to make ourselves more present in our relationships with others.

Below are helpful ways to make deeper connections and avoid harmful relationship habits due to overconsumption of technology.

1. Talk in-person as much as possible

We all know there are things we might want to say, but won’t – in-person, at least. Technology makes it easy to simply ignore people.

Whether that’s not responding to phone calls, texts, Snapchats, and more, technology can create a barrier between us.

If you’re having problems with a friend or a significant other, talking in person is the best way to handle it – not a long strand of text messages back and forth.

Talking in-person enhances communication – because communication is more than physically speaking – it’s body language, eye contact and expression. Behind a messaging screen, those things are not visible.

You only really see a quarter of the potential communication through texting and messaging. This also means that you could misread someone’s tone.

What appears on your phone is the text only – it doesn’t include the tone in which someone said it, which gives a big insight on how that person is actually feeling. Speaking face-to-face nearly eliminates this barrier.

2. Connect wisely and thoughtfully. You don’t have to completely disregard your phone to be connected with someone

Think about how you would feel if someone was ignoring you while being on their phone, or trying to spend time with someone who seems to be distracted because of their phone.

While you don’t have to go on a total detox, think about how you’re physically engaging with someone.

Is your phone put away when you’re hanging out with people, or are you checking it every two minutes at the dinner table?

If you’re serious about healthy relationship habits, remember to stay in the moment. Be present. Engage with whom is sitting across from you. Disregarding them could put up a metaphorical wall, contribute to future communication issues and cause them to lose overall trust in the relationship. Plus – it’s just bad manners!

3. Encourage offline activities

It isn’t hard to see why texting, snapchatting and direct messaging each other is more popular than talking on the phone – it’s quick, easy and you can be doing multiple things at once while communicating with someone through messaging.

However, try using your phone just to make in-person plans. Text a group of your friends to meet up at a coffee shop, instead of sending each other hundreds of messages in a group chat.

Or call your family and make Sunday dinner plans instead of chatting on the phone for a couple minutes.

You’ll have so much more fun sitting across from real people than staring at a screen. Along with talking in-person, getting to know each other offline fosters a deeper connection built on trust and familiarity. Plus, you’ll be making REAL memories, instead of sitting at home scrolling through social media looking at the memories everyone else is making.

All-in-all, technology isn’t evil. It’s helped us advance and communicate in ways we never thought possible. However, when it comes to personal relationships, we should recognize how we’re using technology to connect with them. Take those relationships offline every once in a while, and you’ll find that maybe you don’t need technology that much – at least while you’re together!


11 Essential Rules for a Successful Relationship

Rules of Engagement for Relationships

Source: LDprod/Shutterstock

All organized sports have ground rules to point competitors in the right direction, make sure they’re doing the right things, and keep them from committing penalties. Rules make good sense in relationships and marriages, too, to keep couples from making serious, life-altering mistakes with each other.

Violate this list at your own peril:

1. Never, ever curse at each other.

Calling your partner a curse word is displays contempt for them. All your post-curse apologies cannot erase what you said from your partner’s memory — and you can guarantee your hurtful words will come up again, exactly as you said them, in another argument, sooner or later.

2. Don’t make threats, conditional or otherwise.

Saying things , “You don’t have the guts to leave!” or “I dare you to try to get along without me!” puts the other person into a mindset where he or she suddenly has to decide if it may come down to leaving you.

Conditional threats — “If you do or don’t do this, then I will do or not do that…” — are a good way to create a lot of doubt in a partner’s mind about the future of the relationship.

Threats rarely lead to positive behavioral change, especially if the other person fears that he or she will hear them again later.    

3. Don’t bring up partners from the past.

Nothing is more hurtful than being compared unfavorably to another “better” lover, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, from the past; it just cuts a partner to the core. “I should have stayed with…” or “I should have married…” are brutal things to hear. 

4. Don’t keep score, especially for trivial things.

Saying things , “You got me a lousy birthday gift three years ago!” is petty and not helpful when addressing current problems. Focus on the now. It’s hard for your partner to defend himself or herself for something you failed to bring up many months or years ago — and it's unfair to ask them to do so.

5. Don’t use sweeping generalizations “You always…” or “You never…”

These types of statements are hurtful because both people know they aren’t true. Saying, “You never compliment me on what I’m wearing!” or “You never listen to me when I tell you about my problems at work” is usually not correct.

Your partner has done these things, as you both well know, even if they perhaps haven't done them enough.

Better to say, “It makes me feel better when you compliment me,” or “Can I get your full attention when I talk about what’s bothering me at work?”

6. Don’t argue in the bedroom.

This is an easy fix and an important one. Your bedroom should be used for sleeping, snacking, reading, TV, and sex. That’s it. It needs to remain a real place of peace. Fighting in the bedroom turns it into a place associated with conflict and fills the room with a negative energy that is hard to shake. 

7. Don’t go to bed with unresolved issues.

Sleeping next to someone you are furious at is nearly impossible. Solve your issues, for as long as it takes, and declare a peace treaty at least until the next day.

8. Don’t give someone the silent treatment longer than one day.

Certain people are capable of giving a partner the silent treatment for weeks. This only creates a level of tension that makes daily living unbearable. Passing in the hallway and saying nothing for days is sad, tedious, and usually only leads to more arguments. (Related acts, door slamming or stomping around, are equally childish.)

9. Don’t yell in front of your kids (or pets).

The noise you generate from screaming at each other terrifies young kids and/or pets. These sensitive creatures are easily scared by disruptions in their routines, especially when they don’t understand why they are happening.

10. Don’t say mean personal things.

It’s common for angry couples to try to hurt each other when arguments get control.

One method is to pick on something the other person either can’t control (baldness, fading attractiveness), has tried hard to control (weight, fitness level), or is sensitive about (certain body parts, sexual performance). using curse words, these examples will be filed away and brought back up at a later time.

11. Don’t throw things when you're angry.

It’s easy to let things get completely hand when you or your partner start tossing things at each other in anger.

Un in romantic comedies on the big screen, though, in real life this rarely leads to both partners suddenly laughing at each other and then falling into bed for make-up sex.

Throwing anything at someone can lead to an escalation of the original fight to new, worse levels, injuries, or even criminal charges if the injuries are serious enough. Heaving your partner’s cell phone at his or her face is just a bad idea. 

Bonus Ground Rule: Don’t wait to get professional therapeutic help until it’s too late.


Rules Of Engagement For Healthy Relationships

Rules of Engagement for Relationships

Healthy relationships are an essential element on your Life Palette to assure that you can live as the masterpiece God created you to be. Making relationships a key expression of your core foundational value will give you favor. As you do so you will see amazing changes in those relationships, including your relationship with God. Jesus valued relationships.

In Mark 12, Jesus and His disciples were in the temple courts surrounded by a crowd. The religious leaders of His day were asking questions and discussing Jesus’ answers. They were literally debating. One of the religious leaders thought Christ’s answers were profound, so he pressed in and asked Jesus which commandment was the most important.

Jesus’ response was all about relationships, first with God and then with others. “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD.  And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)  Simple: Love God, love others. Simple – but not easy.

One reason it’s not easy is that you won’t agree on everything with those you have relationship with.

Often when you disagree you will argue or dare I say even fight! And that’s OK, even healthy, as long as you are able to realize that you are working through something so that you can continue to build healthy relationships on your Life Palette. The problem you will often face is that you have not prepared ahead of time how you will fight; rules of engagement.

Rules Of Engagement

Thankfully, God gives us rules of engagement in the Bible. Three simple rules: “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

(James 1:19-20) These rules of engagement will change your relationships, during disagreements they will pave the way for you work through everything, come to agreement and build perpetually growing, healthy relationships.

1.      Be Quick To Listen

This is more than simply not talking. This is about listening with a desire to understand. When you disagree or fight with someone today, make it your goal to understand their position.

2.     Slow To Speak

It’s important to choose your words carefully. Once they come your mouth you can never take them back. How many times have you spoken something and you knew you shouldn’t have said it even before you spoke it? Make it a rule of engagement – slow to speak.

3.      Slow To Get Angry

Anger will always add fuel to the fire and make it harder to work through your disagreement. You have to control your temper, keep a cool head.

God’s rules of engagement work. The key is to have His Spirit living in you so that you will be empowered to live them out: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal 5:22-23 NLT)

Imagine the difference it would make if we would all apply these rules of engagement to all of our relationships. As you do you will make a valuable difference in assuring you have healthy relationship on your Life Palette. While you can’t control what everyone else will do, you can choose what you will do.

Next Steps:

Make a commitment to apply these rules of engagement in every relationship today. Which of these 3 do you need to work on most?


Four Rules of Engagement

Rules of Engagement for Relationships

You got engaged over the holidays! Congratulations! That is so exciting! I am very happy for you both.

What’s next? Wedding planning! Yay! Or is it, Yay?

Turning to a pop culture reference I’m reminded of a scene in the movie Bride Wars. The focus finally turns away from the battling bffs and toward the couples about to be married. The wedding planner, played by Candice Bergen, explains the dynamics underlying how an engaged couple weathers wedding preparation.

She says something : In wedding planning, there is an infinite number of decisions to make which require compromises to reach, priorities to establish.

How the couple deals with the time leading up to the wedding is a good predictor of how they will confront controversy in their marriage: together on the same team, two horses pulling the same cart, or on opposite sides, boxers.

In other words, the quality of your relationship is forged during the engagement period.

She has a great point. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together, there’s something unique about the time between saying “Yes!” to the proposal and actually getting married.

So here are some tips to make this time a healthy reflection of your future together.

  1. Forget the “Perfect Day” edict. Take the pressure off. One of my favorite Sex and the City episodes was when Charlotte got married to the bald lawyer (sorry, can’t remember his name) and everything was going wrong. Miranda saved the day by re-framing the situation. She said, “The more disastrous the wedding the better the marriage.” She was paraphrasing a proven theatrical proverb: ‘The more the dress rehearsal sucks the better the show.’ What a great save!
  2.  Lighten up. Take the big view. Laugh at yourselves and anyone else trying to stress you out. Imagine yourselves telling the story of your engagement to your grandkids.
  3. Do not let the in-laws get between you. If their mother says you have to get married in a church by a priest when your plan is to have your best pal marry you in a gorgeous old barn on Halloween, listen to her politely and say you’ll think about it. Do not get in a discussion with her when what you need to do is get your story straight with your partner, in private.
  4. When conflicts do arise… and they will…

Make each other the priority. In some families that can be a huge issue (see #3). Your parents or his will go through their own transition. That’s their job. Yours is to nurture your couple-ness.

Move the problem from between you.  Learn how to have a good argument. Resist letting anyone or anything come between you. Take the issue outside your relationship, as if it’s an obstacle in your path that the two of you need to tackle, together, to get to the other side of it and move on. Remember you are on the same team, learning to have each other’s backs.

Brainstorm solutions. Nurture an environment where you both are emotionally safe and truly free to toss ideas around without fear of being shut down or shamed. In that safe zone creativity thrives and will serve you well all the rest of your days together.

Do a lot of listening. Is there something that’s not being said? Did you truly get what your partner is trying to tell you? Did they hear your concerns or do they need a little help with that? Learn to reflect to one another what you think you heard: This is what I think you want me to hear. Did I get it? Is there more? 

If you and your partner could use a helping hand negotiating some of these issues during your engagement, please call us at Explore What’s Next. We’re great believers in couples counseling as a way to learn communication and problem-solving skills that will serve you now and into your fabulous future together.

Cool Photo by Scott Webb

Wise Words by

Executive & Personal Coaching, Individual & Relationship Counseling

Life gave Dr. Aletta the opportunity to know what it’s to hurt physically and emotionally. After an episode of serious depression in her mid-twenties, Dr. Aletta was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease that relapsed throughout her adulthood. While treatable, the cure was often as hard to bear as the disease. Later she was diagnosed with scleroderma, another chronic illness.

Throughout, Dr. Aletta battled with anxiety. Despite all this, Dr. Aletta wants you to know, you can learn to engage in life again on your terms.

Good therapy helped Dr. Aletta. She knows good therapy can help you. That’s why she created Explore What’s Next.

Today Dr. Aletta enjoys mentoring the EWN therapists, focusing on coaching and psychotherapy clients, writing and speaking. She is proud and confident that Explore What’s Next can provide you with therapists who will help you regain a sense of safety, control and joy.

716.308.6683 |


5 Rules of Engagement Before Planning a Wedding

Rules of Engagement for Relationships

Getting engaged is one of life's biggest milestones. The sentimental moment signifies that two people have finally met their match, and announcing an engagement to loved ones means you can officially begin planning the biggest party of your life thus far.

While engagements come with their fair share of celebration and champagne, it's crucial for all couples to consider some major relationship factors before taking the next step toward happily ever after. To determine how couples can strengthen their bond before putting a ring on it, we spoke with Racine R.

Henry, PHD, a licensed marriage and family therapist, who weighed in with helpful relationship advice that leads to healthier unions.

1. Get on the same page

It's essential that you and your partner first discuss (and hopefully agree on) life's most pressing questions.

Do you both want children? If so, how many? Where do you envision yourself living in the next five years? These are all tough questions to ask, but important topics to consider before settling down.

“People should have open and honest conversations about what marriage means to them and how they want their marriage to look,” says Henry.

In addition to navigating life-changing choices, Henry explains that couples should make sure they're on the same page about what they want their relationship to look on a day-to-day basis.

If you’re nearing this stage in life, Racine suggests figuring out with your partner “how they intend to spend quality time, how they’ll balance other relationships with family and friends, and what each partner needs in order to feel happy within the marriage.”

RELATED: 14 Signs You're in a Healthy Relationship

2. Make the move

Moving in together can help you gain insight into what marriage with your partner will look . Sharing a living space can also help you and your partner troubleshoot basic issues. “You can get a preview of what marriage may be ,” says Henry.

“You can start troubleshooting issues sharing a space, cleaning, and finances.

” Henry refers to these issues as “functional topics,” and stresses that it’s important to evaluate your partner’s compatibility with yours, even if some of the topics seem trivial.

3. Hit the road

Traveling together is a surefire way to gauge your compatibility, since it's often a stressful and unpredictable endeavor. “Taking a vacation together can reveal another layer of compatibility that you may not see while dating or even living together,” explains Henry. “People show their true colors when the unexpected tribulations of being away from home arise.”

4. Seek out therapy

Contrary to popular belief, professional therapy isn’t just for married couples or spouses on the verge of hardship. Seeking the help of a certified relationship therapist allows for a third party perspective on your union.

“I would definitely recommend seeking therapy before and during your marriage,” says Henry. “You’re not going to solve all your relationship problems before the wedding day, but at least you’ll have an idea about what you’re dealing with.

” According to Henry, the major goal of therapy should be to gain insight into how to operate differently within the relationship.

RELATED: 6 Signs Your Relationships Is Going to Last

5. Evaluate any and all red flags

Honesty and openness are hallmarks of any successful relationship—and it’s important to consider whether or not your partner has already breached your trust.

“Cheating before an engagement can be a red flag of the relationship's instability,” says Henry.

“I don’t have a ‘once a cheater, always a cheater,’ mentality, but infidelity can be a hallmark of both partners not being open and honest with each other about their needs in the relationship.”

Another obvious, but often overlooked, deal breaker is if both of you disagree on the idea of actually getting engaged. “If you don’t agree on whether you should be engaged or married, that's a huge red flag,” says Henry. “Marriage isn’t something you want to convince someone of.”

Instead, talk with your partner openly about the work you both anticipate will go into building a successful union, and use that conversation as an excuse to get excited about your future together. “You want both partners to be enthusiastic and excited about being together forever, but also aware of the work that marriage entails,” Henry says.


The Rules of Engagement: 14 Ground Rules for My Next Relationship

Rules of Engagement for Relationships

Dear future boyfriend,

I know you’re out there, but I have no idea how, when or where we will meet. For now, I am mostly content with the life I have created for myself.

But, I’m eager to meet you, and in the interim I’ve done a lot of thinking and self-examination about the kind of partner I am and the girlfriend I want to be.

I have some ideas about the qualities and interpersonal skills I’d for you to have. But mainly, a great connection and a good fit is what I am seeking, and I am open to that in many forms, future boyfriend.

I also think it’s most constructive if I focus on me. Over 33 years, I’ve tried and failed with relationships. The heartache has been significant, and I’ve learned from it.

Intimate relationships have helped show me who I am. They’ve helped me discover what I can and cannot expect from a partner, and they’ve enabled me to learn how much I can give of myself without losing myself.

I can’t control my ability to meet the right person in my preferred time frame (but gee, sometimes, I really wish I could). Instead, I focus on becoming the person I want to be now and in my next relationship.

So here are 14 guiding principles of the partner I will be when I meet you, future boyfriend:

  1. I want to be your #1 source of support and understanding. I will continuously learn how to best enable you, but I can’t make things happen for you.
  2. I want to be known by you. I’ll be open and share with you.
  3. I want to know you, and I’ll endeavor to continually demonstrate interest and ask questions about who you are and how you feel — long after the “honeymoon period” is over.
  4. I’ll respect your space, but I won’t allow distance to take us down divergent paths.
  5. I’m always going to take pride in my appearance and work hard to look great. This is mainly for me, but absolutely also for you.
  6. When I am unhappy, my inclination is to withdraw, which can be destructive. I’ll work on containing this impulse and being open instead of hiding.
  7. I will consistently make time for fun and new experiences — and seek opportunities to introduce them.
  8. I will communicate my needs clearly. I will never expect you to read my mind.
  9. I’m not going to sweep issues under the rug, but I also recognize that not everything can be dealt with immediately.
  10. I can be very hard on myself. I want you to help me lighten up during those times, but I won’t rely on you to make me feel better about myself.
  11. To me, you’re the most desirable guy in the world, and I’m going to take every opportunity to make you feel that way.
  12. I am going to keep working on my listening skills. I am not a poor listener, but I want to be a great listener. It isn’t easy.
  13. It’s very important to me to be reasonable and fair even when my emotions want to cloud those virtues.
  14. Very few relationships last a lifetime. In the event that the relationship has to end, I will seek to part on terms that respect you and exhibit compassion. But not at the expense of my dignity.

Sounds pretty good, right? I just want to be worthy of you, future boyfriend. Because I know you’re going to knock my socks off.

With love and respect,


“,”author”:”Jaclyn Schiff”,”date_published”:”2016-10-02T05:35:53.092Z”,”lead_image_url”:”*cMi5LE-Yk1XIdc-GjPtmKg.jpeg”,”dek”:null,”next_page_url”:null,”url”:””,”domain”:””,”excerpt”:”Dear future boyfriend,”,”word_count”:565,”direction”:”ltr”,”total_pages”:1,”rendered_pages”:1}


Relationships, Social Media and the Rules of Engagement — Therapy For Black Girls

Rules of Engagement for Relationships

You may not want to admit it but nowadays, social media says A LOT about who you are.  We’re obviously long from the days of Instant Messaging our pen pals, but we may have taken a sharp detour into a different place called ‘Instagram: A day in the life of [Insert your name here]’ town.

Although navigating this destination can be a bit confusing and there are a multitude of ‘unspoken’ rules about what we can and cannot post, this isn’t totally a bad thing! On social, we stay updated on the people we love most— graduations, new jobs, and major money moves happening in their lives.

And, of course, we also get a chance to socialize our own milestones, some of us taking extra care to snag the flyest pictures of ourselves at [insert location], with our Black Girl Magic hashtags and no-filter flexes…it’s become a lifestyle.

And, whether we choose to believe it or not, we’ve steadily welcomed more and more people into our lives with each post and with each caption. We disseminate personal information about who we are and what we’re about in the process. We do it seamlessly and with a touch of a button.

So, our platforms tell folks about our values, goals and the things that matter most to us in this life.

So, what happens when someone else steps into our lives? Someone a life-partner or significant other? Are you jumping at the earliest opportunity to post pictures of the two of you on Instagram in all your #relationshipgoals? Or, are you slower to make your online debut as a full-fledged couple? Or maybe the thought of posting someone else on your profile gives you some real anxiety—for fear that person might not be a permanent fixture in your life.

The real question here is this…
When someone else comes into your life, how are they incorporated, if at all, into your online life and what impact does this have on you?

What are the rules of engagement regarding relationships on social media? Here are some of the questions we’re wondering about. 

  • Do you have conversations with your partner or someone you’re dating about when or if you’ll be acknowledging your relationship online? If there is a difference of opinion here, how might you negotiate it?
  • Does it make you feel some kind of way if your partner would prefer not to have pictures of you or y’all as a couple on their social media?
  • What kinds of conversations, if any, do you have with your partner about their interactions with others online?
  • Do you follow/friend/ your partner across social media channels? Why or why not?
  • Has your relationship been impacted by things that have happened on social media?

We’re curious about these new rules of engagement and what they might mean for our mental health, so share your thoughts with us in the comments or sound off on our social media channels under this post. 


Rules of Engagement – Boundaries for a Fair Fight

Rules of Engagement for Relationships

Sixteen years ago when we met with our mentor and pastor (PJ) for our pre-marriage counselling he had us create rules of engagement for arguments or disagreements. We have essentially stuck to the same boundaries for arguments for the last 16 years because they have worked. 

Before I get into listing the boundaries we have made for ourselves when it comes to how we “fight” lets talk about the why.

You treat people how to treat you. What you allow you condone. 

With that in mind it is important that you lay down expectations for how you want to be treated during a disagreement.

By doing this as a couple you are being intentional to create the type of culture you want in your relationship.

When we decide not to be intentional we're allowing circumstances and emotions to take the lead and that ultimately typically ends in unhealthy patterns of behaviour.

Ideally we would all know exactly how to treat one another and always understand how our actions, verbiage and tone would affect others. Unfortunately that is not real life.

By creating boundaries for a fair fight that you both agree to you can develop healthy patterns and ensure that your disagreements have a foundation of honour and respect.

You can actually go into a disagreement without anxiety because you know that you are both committed to keeping the argument clean and productive. 

At the basis of our rules engagement there needs to be the mindset that the goal of confrontation is that it end in understanding. Confrontation is not for one person to be right and the other to be wrong. Confrontation is not to shame or punish someone.

It's also important to both commit to working something through.

It brings much peace and stability to a relationship when you know that you are going to find a resolution and you're both committed to your partner having a voice and getting on the same page. 

All that said – here are our Rules of Engagement

1. No swearing, cussing, or name calling. It brings unneeded aggression and negativity into the argument. Name calling is disrespectful and honestly should be weeded your life in general.

It's never productive. Now, one should also avoid trying to get around the rules by using “I statements” “I feel you're acting a $#@.

” I'm not proud of the fact that I've tried that one! lol. 

2. Keep the volume respectful. There's no need to raise your voice or yell. 

3. Refrain from using the words “Always” or “Never”. Those terms paint someone with a brush and totally discount all the times they do not act in the way you are describing them.

Realistically nobody ever always does something or never does something. It will make them feel defensive because you are categorizing them unfairly. It looks saying things “You always leave your towel on the floor.

” or “You never help me cook.”

4. Be responsible – don't justify your behaviour. You and only you are responsible for every choice, word, behaviour, action or mindset you have. No one put a gun to your head and made you say something or act in a certain way. In an argument refuse to allow yourself to deflect by justifying your actions.

That looks saying things “Well I only lost my temper because you would not stop talking about it.” WRONG. Sorry – I don't want to be harsh but you are an adult, you control yourself. The biggest component of adulting is being fully responsible for your behaviour and choices.

When you are fully responsible you are very powerful!

5. Stay on Task – nothing derails an argument quicker than getting off task. If an issue has been brought up, stay on that issue. Don't start bringing up the past and other issues. Don't use your partners issues as ammunition or justification for your own. This is the #1 reason arguments start to go in circles and take 3 hours to get to the end of. 

For example, I may say to my husband “Hey, I'm not loving how much of your mail is accumulating in the living room. I'm not sure what you need and what you don't. Can you please go through it and file what you need to keep and clean it up?”

He may respond with “Well I'm not sure you're one to talk. Your clothes have been on the floor in the bedroom for 3 days.”

With that type of response we're getting no where because we could “fire” at each other allllll day long. Commit to staying on task and keep each other accountable. I would then respond with “I understand clothes on the floor could be frustrating but could we please stick to the issue at hand and then we can find another time to talk about the clothes on the floor.”

Once the initial issue is dealt with we can either move onto the next issue or save it for another day. If you're working through something tough and it's emotionally draining it might be best to leave it for another day. 

6. Make peace before you sleep – You may not be able to fully come to a resolution on an argument before you go to bed (and it can be unhealthy to argue until all hours of the night) but try to at least come to a place of peace. Choose to let go of your anger and communicate your willingness to understand each other and work this out. Unresolved anger leads to bitterness and resentment. 

7. No Audience – sometimes it's helpful to allow your kids to see you work through confrontation in a healthy way. That is fine.

But for sensitive matters where a lot of feelings are involved leave that for a private time with no audience. This goes for arguing in front of others as well. It's not appropriate to argue in front of your family or friends.

It puts them in an awkward spot and often invites others into the confrontation which is not helpful at all. 

So those are our Rules of Engagement. Other people may have ones that look very different from ours but the important thing is to make the time to sit down with your partner and actually be intentional to set the boundaries in place. 

If someone crosses a boundary then we help each other by lovingly pointing it out and then sticking to the expectation. If a person refuses to play by the rules so to speak then we have the right to not engage the conversation any longer until the person is willing to fight fair.

This may mean physically leaving the confrontation. No one should ever have to stay in a conversation that is disrespectful.

People often learn quickly that if they want to be heard and have a voice in the conversation that they will have to treat people well in order to have that privilege. 

Do you have Rules of Engagement in your relationship? If so, we'd love to hear yours!

You can watch our message where we shared these guidelines as well as a ton of practical tips for creating healthy boundaries in relationships here!


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