How to Fight Right: Using B.A.I.T. Method
Let’s face facts, couples fight. As a marriage therapist, I have seen many ways couples fight, from oddly hilarious to downright frightening. Regardless of where you fall on the fighting spectrum, the BAIT method can help you fight right. To get the most from this technique, talk about it with your loved one before your next fight. That’s right, whip this article out and say, “Honey, let’s practice fighting using the BAIT method, okay?”
B is for Breathe. The first step sounds a bit like the cliché urgings of a yoga teacher. However, it is perhaps the most powerful. At times it can stop a fight before it even starts. Use the 10-10-10 method. Inhale through your nose for 10 seconds, exhale slowly through your mouth for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. It might seem awkward in the heat of the moment, but remember, the goal is to fight right not to look cool doing it.
A is for Ask. Now that your fighting brain is freshly oxygenated, this next step should be easy. Ask yourself “What am I feeling?” Remember, we are talking about feelings not thoughts. Let’s imagine you are fighting about the dishes and why you always have to gosh-darn-do-them. What is the associated feeling? Ask yourself, am I feeling anger, sad, rage or fear or any combination of these feelings? An unacceptable answer is “I feel like you are a jerk!” This is a thought.
I is for I feel. Okay, so now you know how you feel. The next step is to use an “I statement” to express your feelings. State only your feelings to your partner using the following formula. “I feel -blank-because -blank-.” At this point your partner responds to your statement with a “you statement.” It goes like this: “You feel sad and angry because you always do the dishes.” If your partner feels the need to defend himself take do a 10-10-10 breath and afterwards remind him or her to stay focused on the method.
T is for Tell. This step requires everyone to put on their big boy and big girl panties mid-fight. Tell your partner one thing that is going well in the relationship. For example, “I like when you call me from work to say you love me.” Chances are you might not feel like doing this step. But do it anyway because it reminds you both in the darkest moments that there is something to fight right for. Be generous with this step, even if you are not feeling like sharing something nice, do it anyway.
Congratulations, you are done learning the B.A.I.T method. The great news about this tool is that if there is still unfinished business and you need go a few more rounds, go right back to the top and begin again and again.