When you are so in love with someone and you constantly look at each other with googly eyes it’s hard to imagine ever fighting. However as time passes by you may find yourself in the middle of a lovers quarrel. Loving someone doesn’t mean you won’t fight with them, in fact the opposite is true, it’s inevitable. Conflict will arise, and emotions will run high but it’s how you respond to each other that will depend if you fight fair or fight dirty. Fighting fair leads to productive arguing, while fighting dirty can damage a marriage. Therefore learning how to combat conflict by approaching it appropriately and wisely rather than avoiding it can help build a healthy relationship between you and your spouse. Fighting fair means you remember that you’re on the same team and you’re working through your dispute with love, not harshness. So let’s discuss how to fight fair. 

Attack the problem at hand, not one another

The temptation, when you’re in a heated argument, is to let your tongue fly, from name calling to bringing up past mistakes. It is human nature to want the upper hand by pushing all the “right” buttons but really all it’s doing is derailing any chance of having a productive argument and only causing escalation. Therefore it’s important to focus on the issue at hand, without bringing the other person down, and work to resolve it before going down a rabbit trail of problems and then forgetting the original argument. As you deal with the issue avoid using generalized, broad sweeping words like “always” or “never” because these words are not only unfair but most likely untrue, instead use specific examples. Remember you love this person and “love is patient and kind…and it keeps no record of being wronged” (1 Cor. 13:4&5c)

Listen and Don’t Interrupt

If an argument consists of who can yell louder, no one is being heard and no one is listening. In fact if you are fighting fair you shouldn’t even have to yell because you both are attentively listening to one another. The only way a problem can be resolved is by fully hearing and understanding what it is first. When you are a great listener, you are slow to speak, which means you are more in control of your response. Refrain from listening only to respond, and don’t interrupt, instead seek to understand, even ask good questions that will bring you closer to a resolution. It is only when you are able to attentively listen can you find the true emotion beneath all the frustration and anger. 

Be quick to apologize and forgive

Humbling yourself and recognizing when your wrong and that you’ve hurt your spouse by taking responsibility and apologizing is the greatest way to drop all defenses. Even though at times apologizing can be the hardest thing to do, it’s often the easiest and quickest way to resolve a conflict, as long as it’s done properly. If your heart is not behind it, your spouse will know, so to do it properly you must acknowledge their feelings and the hurt that was caused, take responsibility, and seek forgiveness. Whether you are asking for forgiveness or your spouse is seeking yours, be quick to forgive, don’t hold grudges, and be willing to move on. 

Fighting is going to happen, no couple is perfect and no couple fights fair every time. However knowing how to fight fair and implementing it in your own relationship will ultimately bring you two closer. There is power in knowing how to best respond to your mate. Fighting fair will help you get to the solution of any argument much quicker and with less yelling. 

Some of the best things about being a teenager is finding different ways to socialize, whether that’s hanging out with a friend group at school, being apart of sports, or shopping for the next school dance. Being with friends is a huge part of being a teenager, not to mention all the milestones a teenager looks forward to, like driving, prom, and graduating. Once COVID hit all of this was stripped away and many of the activities a typical teenager enjoys was either postponed or cancelled, limiting, what teenagers do best, socializing with their friends. Being confined to their home, many teens have been impacted emotionally; feelings of depression, anger, and even boredom have begun to weigh heavy. So let’s discuss some ways you can best parent your teenager during these hard times.

Emphasize Precautions

Teens often feel invincible, which may make it a bit difficult for them to comply with new mandates. Therefore it is important that they understand that social distancing, wearing a mask and regularly washing their hands apply to them too. These mandates are in place to not only protect them but to protect others as well because it’s not really a matter of how you are feeling and that you may feel fine. The danger is when a person is asymptomatic and they are carrying around the virus without knowing it. Even though your teen may be comfortable taking the risk of getting sick, to be with their friends, help them see that if they end up getting COVID they will have possibly infected everyone they interacted with that they did not social distance from or wear a mask around, which includes their family. Even though your teen is young the coronavirus is still unpredictable and affects people differently, from mild to sever symptoms, no matter the age. Therefore it is vital that your teen has a clear picture of this virus and it’s important that, you as the parent are there for them to answer any questions, bringing them comfort.

Support a Healthy Routine

No matter what age you are it is can be frustrating to change up your routine. However it’s important that your teen plans out a new schedule and routine that helps them maintain a healthy lifestyle that keeps their mind and body engaged rather than letting time aimlessly pass them by. Your teen will be able to cope better during such a stressful time if they are getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, and regularly exercising. This will help your teen maintain a positive mood and fulfill academic expectations. Encourage your teen to get active, whether you go on family hikes, walks, or bike rides. Maybe this is an opportunity to get active with your teen, maybe try running together or take an online workout class, regardless remind your teen sleeping all day is not an option, it’s important to remain active. 

Include social connections within your teens schedule by allowing time to connect via Zoom, Facetime and social media. Even though screen time should be monitored it’s also important to know this is their way to feel connected. Encourage your teen, during this “down time” to learn or do something new like finding a fun recipe and making it for the family. A new routine can include new memories and precious moments together. 

Be Mindful of your Teen’s Mental Health

If sulking about being home with parents and siblings becomes a regular occurrence with your teen a conversation may be helpful. Acknowledge their frustrations, and maybe sharing your own feelings, may help your teen not feel alone. Listening to their heart and validating their feelings can have a positive impact on your teen. Help them understand that you want to work together at making this situation more bearable. Regularly check in with your teen asking them how they are doing and how they are feeling in their low moments. Be mindful of any emotional changes such as: acting out, irritability or being tearful, changes in sleep or eating, and if they are isolating more often. Have direct conversations with your teen about their mood and mental health.

As difficult of a season this is…this too shall pass. The best thing you can do as a parent for your teen is to simply be available.

When two people fall in love and get married but have children from previous marriages it becomes a blended family. It is a beautiful thing when two people make a life long commitment to one another but it can be a process and a big adjustment when two families come together as one. You as parents may enter the remarriage with excitement and expectation, while the children may have different feelings. They may have feelings of uncertainty of how things will change and may be worried about living with a stepparent or stepsiblings. Blending families together may not be easy but with good communication, mutual respect and a ton of love, grace and patience, a bond can begin to form between stepparent and stepchildren creating a healthy and thriving blended family. So here are some tips to help your family be successful in growing together. 

Keep your marriage a priority: It will take some adjusting to being a married couple while parenting but without the marriage there is no family. The marriage must come first, so be sure to continue nurturing and strengthening your relationship by making time for you two. Your children will be looking to you two, so demonstrating love towards one another is the best way to be an example and to show how important the family being together truly is. 

Build a relationship with your stepchildren: Get to know your stepchildren. Include them in your daily life through conversation and even fun activities. Listen to them, become interested in what they enjoy, hear them when they share about life, school, work, friends etc. Become a safe, secure person in their life that they can trust and know is available whenever needed. Be intentional in building a relationship with your stepchildren.

Have open communication: Recognize that families coming together can be difficult for all parties, so bring ease to your children and stepchildren by letting them know they are safe to be open and honest about the new family dynamic. However, in the same way, you too need to be upfront with any problems you may be having with your spouse and anyone involved. If you want others to be vulnerable you will most likely need to pave the way. 

Form a partnership with the former spouse: As strange as it may sound, forming a partnership with your spouse’s ex is important when children are in the picture. There needs to be an agreement on how both sets of parents will parent when they have the child(ren). When a stepparent is willing to honor and respect the biological parent the better the relationship will be between stepparent and stepchildren. This is one that shows that you have the child’s best interest at heart. 

Have fun together: Make memories! With all the adjusting, focus on the positives of your new family. Learn and grow together over fun experiences and lots of laughter. Spend quality time together, whether it’s over an adventurous hike, making a mess in the kitchen while making a favorite dessert, or showing everyone’s competitive side over a board game. Regardless be reminded how blessed you are to have one another. Blending families is no easy feat but is absolutely worth it. God has brought you all together, and what a sweet blessing that is. Embrace the challenge and enjoy one another. 

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