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How to Fight Fair in a Relationship

Updated: Aug 22

A couple sits on a couch and fights fair in a relationship

You can still fight fairly even when your feelings are hurt

Key takeaways:

  • Fighting fair in a relationship shows respect, love, and emotional control

  • There are several ways to fight fair, even though your feelings may be hurt

  • Couples therapy provides a safe space to learn conflict resolution skills

It may seem strange, but arguments signify a healthy relationship; not the fact that you have them but how you solve them. Conflict is healthy. It allows you to see where your relationship could improve and how you can grow individually and together.

A couple’s personalities can be polar opposites but that doesn’t keep them from loving and respecting each other. When love and respect are present in a relationship, conflict (as uncomfortable as it can be) is just another way to grow together.

Conflict management and resolution are two of the most valuable skills a couple can have. Fighting fair is a learned skill, and mindful arguments help couples use conflict as a tool to enhance their relationships.

Couples therapy can also help couples learn to fight fairly and keep their cool when arguments ensue. Check out these tips for fighting fairly and how couples therapy can help you learn the ropes.

1. Set boundaries

Setting boundaries makes arguments a lot less confusing. Set rules such as:

  • No name-calling

  • No excessive aggression

  • No involving a third, unqualified party

Make rules against anything that makes both parties uncomfortable. Boundaries help protect our emotions in an argument. These guidelines will help you sustain the respect necessary for a genuinely productive dialogue.

2. Stick to the issue(s)

A really intense argument can quickly turn into a rehashing of everything that’s ever gone wrong in the relationship. Fighting is like an avalanche. Once the rumbling starts, a slew of old problems slides down the hill.

Unfortunately, this tactic never reconciles any argument because it causes confusion and distracts from the main issue. Stay focused on the problem at hand.

3. Watch your tongue

Arguing with your significant other is a slippery slope. Name-calling, screaming, and snarky comments are not appropriate to fling at the person you love (even if you’re mad at the moment). Flaring tempers diminish common sense in a hurry. Before you know it, you’ve said something diminishing, disrespectful, or even abusive. It’s not only counterproductive in an argument, but it can also cause permanent damage to the relationship.

4. Don’t fight to win

Fighting in a relationship is unlike fighting in other situations. The goal is different. You don’t want to win. You must remember that this isn’t a battle to the death; it’s a path to compromise. Every decision in a relationship is a compromise. Real “winning” only happens when couples work together.

5. Schedule your argument

Many people wait for an argument to happen when they know there is an issue instead of facing it. This technique can feel like an ambush to the unexpecting partner. An easy way to ensure a fair fight is to schedule it. Tell your partner you’d like to discuss something and set up a good time.

Both partners then have time to think about the things they want to discuss by scheduling the talk. Another take on this technique is to have your discussion via email. It’s another effective way to give each other time to think during the argument and express feelings with compassion.

6. Sympathize with each other

Sometimes, you might be exceedingly upset about a topic that your partner doesn’t seem to find an issue with. Staying on an even keel is almost impossible when you’re riled up. It’s crucial to remain open and receptive to your partner’s issues, no matter how mad you get.

If you’re not receptive and you dismiss your partner’s concerns, they will mention it on more than one occasion. Each time it happens, it will seem like more of an imposition than the last. Practice showing sympathy when your partner expresses their feelings, regardless of the circumstances.

7. Remember to breathe

Blood-boiling anger has a way of taking center stage in any situation. It’s easy to forget that you’re talking to someone you love. Breathing exercises, like diaphragmatic breathing, can help you calm down, lower your pounding heart rate, and see the circumstances more holistically.

Diaphragmatic breathing doesn’t just lower your heart rate, either. It also lowers your blood pressure and improves your core muscle stability.

8. Validate what your partner’s saying

Repeating what you hear in an argument ensures that your partner feels heard and lets them clarify if necessary. You might say, “So, you get upset when I don’t clean anything around the house for a few days?” This small action helps you both to find common ground and equal understanding.

9. “When X happens, I feel Y”

When you’re trying to tell someone about something they do that bothers you, it’s easy to come off as critical instead of constructive. “I” statements can help, but not if they exude animosity, like saying, “I hate such and such.” “I” statements such as “When X happens, I feel Y…” are much more helpful in an argument.

10. Apologize

A sincere apology is the surest way to end any argument. It has to be delivered correctly, however, to work. The most effective apologies acknowledge that pain was caused and take responsibility for it before asking for forgiveness.

11. Create aftercare practices

Arguments can take a lot out of a person. They can leave you feeling depleted, sad, and a little tender, even if they end well. Creating argument aftercare practices such as makeup sex, romantic walks in the moonlight, or two minutes of silent hugging, helps reconnect you.

12. Get help

Fighting fair isn’t something that comes naturally. Humans are prone to letting their anger get away from them. Couples therapy can help couples learn fair fighting techniques that complement their communication style.

Couples therapy for life transitions, communication problems, and other issues help to make concerns easier to tackle and overcome in a calm, productive manner.

Arguments are inevitable in a healthy relationship, so learning how to navigate them is crucial. Learning to fight fair allows you to see how best to service your relationship so that it lasts.

Do you know how to have a fair fight?

Fighting fair allows couples to look at their relationship from the outside and see how it can be improved. The Love Discovery Institute is an elite emotional and cognitive wellness center that offers therapy for adults, children, and teens from licensed therapists. Our therapists understand relationships exceptionally well and help people develop significant and authentic relationships.

The team at Love Discovery is ready to welcome you with open arms. If you’re ready to start therapy to help improve your relationship, make an appointment with any of our therapists today. Feeling hesitant about how we can help? Call 305.605.LOVE (5683).

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