In times of war there is something known as Rules Of Engagement (ROE). According to GlobalSecurity.org, they are “directives issued by competent military authority which delineate the circumstances and limitations under which United States forces will initiate and/or continue combat engagement with other forces encountered.”
Recently I thought married couples should be practicing rules of engagement when it comes to interpersonal conflict!
Here are 8 Rules of Engagement to ensure you’re always fighting fair:
ROE #1: Do not attempt to reconcile until your emotions are under control.
When emotions are high, thinking is low. If you are going to be able to keep and follow each Rule of Engagement, you will need to dial down your emotions–so you can think straight!
ROE #2: Prepare your heart before you prepare your words.
When entering into dialogue, most of us spend far more time preparing our words–thinking about what we are going to say next–rather than preparing our hearts. You must think: am I in this for me? or for my spouse? Am I entering into dialogue in such a way that my wife (or husband) will experience me being for them or against them?
ROE #3: You will listen to understand – not to form your defense.
Your spouse (just like you) longs to be understood by you. Make that your highest priority when listening, and you will have loved well!
ROE #4: Do not interrupt, talk over, attack, or defend.
That is a sure way to escalate the conflict. You must instead exercise self-control in listening out of love and respect for your spouse. If you are unable to do so, then call for a time out until you can.
ROE #5: You may respond when given the opportunity or permission.
Most conversations are stolen back and forth with very little benefit as a result. Wait until you are given the floor or ask for permission to share. In doing so, reactivity will be held to a minimum and both parties will be in a better place to listen.
ROE #6: Each person is to be given a chance to share their perspective.
In war, only one side is declared a winner. In marital conflict that will only spell disaster. Care must be taken that both parties have a chance to share and that the MARRIAGE wins!
ROE #7: You will affirm and appreciate the validity of each one’s perspective.
Each person has their story and a reason for their story. Your job is to discover and appreciate both.
ROE #8: You will speak with love and respect at all times.
This is only right. Act in a way that is right and you will reap the benefits from doing so.
What other Rules of Engagement would you suggest?