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How to Have a Good Fight    

Hashing out an argument — while irritating — can actually strengthen your bond

How to Have a Good Fight

Abby Delouya BA, BEd, RMFT-CCC

Most couples have disagreements. We can have gloriously happy, connected marriages and still disagree. No matter how well-matched a couple may be, the fact is that we’re separate people who have experienced life differently and can interpret situations in ways that don’t always align.

Hashing out an argument — while irritating — can actually strengthen your bond. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t engage. Numerous studies have been conducted, notably those conducted by the Gottman Institute, which showed that it isn’t if a couple fights that affects the impact on their marriage, but rather how they fight.

After 40 years of research, Drs. John and Julie Gottman found that, with the right approach, a significant number of conflicts can be resolved happily. Drs. Gottman offer the following tips for having a good fight:

1) Soften your start up:

How a conversation starts is usually how it will end. Starting a conversation with a harsh tone will usually lead to criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.

Chaya: Once again you forgot to take out the garbage. Now we missed pickup day and it’s going to be overflowing over Shabbos. (criticism)

Benzion: This again? You’re like a broken record. (contempt)

Chaya: Well, if you took some responsibility, then I wouldn’t have to say anything. We would be fine, normal adults. (more criticism)

Benzion: Until we go to my parents for Shabbos that is — then you’d find something else to complain about. (criticism and deflecting)

Chaya: Turns her back on her husband and starts furiously scrubbing the dishes.

Try: to take responsibility, complain without blame, use “I” statements, describe without judgement, be polite, be appreciative, and don’t let things build up.

Chaya: I see the garbage wasn’t taken out. I feel frustrated about that because then it’ll be full over Shabbos.

Benzion: I did forget, I’m sorry.

Chaya: I feel like I have a lot of responsibility and sometimes it’s overwhelming. Do you think you could please find a solution to the garbage before Shabbos?

Benzion: I can try. Do you need me to do anything else in the house?

Chaya: Thanks for asking — it means a lot.

Benzion: I’m happy to help. I just forget sometimes, but I’ll put a reminder in my phone.

2) Learn to send and receive repair attempts

A repair attempt is like slamming the brakes on when you see a red light. Repair attempts require two people — often it is easier to throw out an attempt, but harder to receive it. Happy couples send and receive repair attempts with ease.

Chaya: Once again you forgot to take out the garbage. Now we missed the pickup day and it’s going to be overflowing over Shabbos. (criticism)

Benzion: I cleaned your car the other day. I do try to help out. (repair attempt)

Chaya: You’re right, you do try to help me. I just hate when the garbage piles up.

Benzion: I get it, I’ll try harder to remember next time.

3) Soothe yourself and each other.

Conflict discussions can flood us with difficult feelings. If either spouse feels flooded, take a 20- to 30-minute break and focus on the positives and gratitudes in the relationship. Being aware of your triggers is crucial.

4) Learn to compromise.

Every marriage has “perpetual problems” — things that may not get resolved due to various personal factors. With these issues, compromise is important. Instead of defending yourself against your “enemy” for a lose-lose, try to be as curious as to what’s important for your spouse, and find a solution that honors both your needs.

Abby Delouya is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist in private practice with a specialty in trauma and addiction. Abby lives in Monsey, NY and maintains her practice in Canada


Decoding Fever

Jennifer Berkovich, MD

A feverish child often leaves us worried. How high is too high? How long is too long? What if the fever isn’t coming down?

Fortunately, fever is usually a sign of a healthy immune system and often needs no intervention at all. Here are the stats:

What is fever?

Any temperature higher than 100.4°F or 38°C. Anything lower than that is normal temperature variability.

What temperature is dangerous?

None! No number on the thermometer is an emergency or cause for concern. No amount of fever will cause seizures, brain damage, or any long-term consequence. Febrile seizures are an underlying condition that causes some children to have a seizure when they have fever. It’s not caused by the fever and the majority of children outgrow them.

Why do kids get fever?

Fever is a sign that the immune system is doing its job

Fever is not an illness but a symptom of an illness, like an infection. The most common cause is a viral illness.

When there are symptoms like congestion, cough, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash, the fever is the result of the body’s immune response to get rid of the underlying virus.

When should we treat fever?

Bringing down the fever is only important when your child doesn’t feel well.

If the child is sleeping or happy, and drinking well, it’s fine not to give any medication.

If your child feels tired, cranky, or refuses to drink, attempting to break the fever with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) may be worthwhile.

The greatest risk with fever is dehydration, so the most valuable action is encouraging fluids.

When is fever a cause for concern?

Persistent fever without any symptoms should prompt an investigation for less common causes.

Fever in babies under two months.

Lethargy, drowsiness, stiff neck, and irritability.

Refusal to drink, decreased wet diapers or urine output, and persistent vomiting and diarrhea

Fever longer than 3–4 days without any improvement or other symptoms to explain the source of the fever.

Fever in unvaccinated children.

Fever in childhood is virtually guaranteed, and armed with this knowledge, parents can worry less and focus on keeping their kids calm and comfortable.

Dr. Jennie Berkovich is a board-certified pediatrician and serves as the Medical Director of Telehealth for Pediatric Associates.


 When Charity Isn’t Kind

Esther Goldstein, LCSW

You can be a very kind, generous person and suddenly start to feel a buildup of resentment and anger (sometimes even directed at the wrong people). Some people call it “the Eishes Chayil Complex.” When generous people fail to set boundaries, they’re misunderstanding the concept of chesed.

Boundaries keep relationships secure and healthy. Some charity is good, but keep in mind that even in the Torah there are rules for how much charity you’re allowed to give. We’re not meant to give more than 10–20 percent of our charity away because we’re obligated to take care of ourselves and our dependents.

This idea works with time as well. If you find that you’re on the verge of crashing, try to limit your time and energy to “minimum maaser mode” and up your self-care game.

Esther Goldstein is an Anxiety and Trauma specialist who runs a group practice called Integrative Psychotherapy & Trauma Treatment, in the five towns, Long Island New York. Esther also has A Trauma Training Program for therapists.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 772)

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