Skip to content

How to Fight Fair in a Relationship

6 Rules for Fighting Fair in a Relationship

While we'd all love to be the couple who never fights, it's not a realistic goal. Whether you've been with your partner for a few months or a few decades, you are bound to fight from time to time. But, how do you keep arguments from exploding into hateful, destructive interactions that put a relationship at risk? Here are six tips to help you argue more effectively.

Remember the goal. Why are you really fighting? Is it because you want to get closer and better understand each other? Or, is it because you feel slighted, resentful and overwhelmed by anger? Ideally, fights should lead to closeness, compromise and understanding. While it's important to address issues so you don't have to face them over and over again; you need to recognize that arguments are fraught with peril. Try to remember you love the other person and stay focused on the goal. De-escalate tension and anger by acknowledging the truth in what the other person is saying, even if you aren't in total agreement.

Air grievances appropriately. If you want to have a difficult discussion, wait until your partner is in a calm mood and then ask him or her if now is a good time to talk. Begin the conversation in a gentle, non-threatening way. Take ownership of the issue by saying, "I have a problem with ‘blank,' and it's been bothering me for a while."  Be ready to take input from your partner and try to see things from both sides. Most importantly, don't wait until frustrations and emotions are high to engage in a combative discussion.

Cultivate a better relationship. Many times, fights have less to do with disagreements and more to do with the state of a relationship. It's important for couples to share a culture of respect and appreciation, so they will be less likely to resort to defamation of character during fights. If your day-to-day is filled with frustration, resentment and a lack of respect, you can bet that your fights will be explosive. If your relationship has taken a rocky turn, consider seeing a relationship therapist, who can work with you and your partner to create an effective action plan to open lines of communication and cultivate a culture of respect and understanding.

Stay on topic. All too often, small arguments evolve into huge fights because couples can't stay on topic. If you are arguing about finances, argue about finances. If your disagreement centers on household duties, keep it centered on the issue at hand. Don't take the opportunity to air multiple unrelated grievances that put your partner's character on trial. Resolve a single issue at a time and don't bring other things into it. If there's a problematic issue from the past that always seems to resurface during arguments, set aside time to address it when you aren't angry or bring it up during a couples counseling session.

Communicate better. It can be tempting to unleash on a partner, especially if you believe you are in the right. Unfortunately, this is actually self-destructive behavior that will prevent you from getting what you want. Ensure a better outcome by using "I" statements to express your feelings. For example, instead of saying "You left me waiting for 30 minutes and never called," you might say, "I was left waiting 30 minutes without a call, and it made me feel unimportant and hurt." Instead of accusing your partner of lying, tell him or her "I need honesty and transparency to feel safe and loved." Whatever the case, focus on describing your feelings to help your partner see things from your point of view.

Take a time-out. If you can sense a fight is spinning out of control, step back and take a break. When we get angry, our stress levels rise, and our brains become less logical. It's generally a bad idea to air grievances when we are in a state of "flight or fight." Take a time-out and revisit the issue when you are both feeling calm and less threatened.

Our caring therapists can help you and your partner grow closer. Contact us today!