- Fighting is a natural and necessary part of any relationship but we can all agree it sucks.
- Use this guide to help it suck a lot less. Seriously though, this guide can help you navigate those challenging conversations with your partner, and hopefully, help you get back on to common ground.
- There is no substitute for therapy (and no shame for seeking it).
Both partners should adhere to the following rules no matter how mad either of you get. Violation of these rules is a violation of the relationship itself and should not be tolerated.
- No yelling: If one raises their voice, the other should pause the conversation until everyone calms down.
- Fight in person: Avoid fighting over the phone or text.
- Take turns and focus on one issue at a time: The initiator of the conversation gets to choose the topic. If you’re mad about something else, wait your turn.
- Don’t make assumptions: You may know your partner really well but you can’t read their mind. Don’t assume you can.
- Honor timeouts: When things get heated, it’s okay (and advisable) to take a break to put some oxygen back into your brain. Even if you want to continue, however, you must honor your partner’s request for a break. Maybe you even create a safe word to signal the need for a break. Once the safe word is said, you both agree to take a 10-minute break.
- It’s okay to go to bed angry: A lot of advice out there tells you to stick it out and not sleep angry, but how often in life have we gone upset mad as hell only to wake up the morning and realize our feelings were exaggerated because we were tired or just needed more space and time to think it all out?
- Agree on the “no-fly zones”: Map out your own “no fly zones” with your partner. You know the things that just get under your skin. Inform your partner of those things (preferably ahead of time) so they can avoid those landmines. Example: Don’t compare your partner to others.
- Agree to disagree: Sometimes there is conflict that can’t be resolved. That’s life! But we can still live in harmony with those with whom we disagree.
- Assume the best: Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. Even if you’re 100 percent convinced they did something maliciously or carelessly, give them the opportunity to share their side.
- Don't criticize or attack your partner: Ask yourself if your comment will help you resolve the conflict or just make you feel better. Don’t sacrifice long-term peace for short-term pettiness. Focus on specific behaviors and actions, not imagined feelings or thoughts.
- Be honest: Don’t try to play games or hide your true feelings in the refuge of the shallow (sarcasm).
- Listen to understand: If you find yourself thinking about how you’re going to reply instead of what your partner is saying, you’re not listening to understand.
This Is the Best Way To Fight With Your Partner, According to Psychologists
When it comes to relationships, conflict is inevitable. But it doesn't have to be emotionally distressing or callous. Couples can disagree and, yes, even fight while still showing compassion and respect for each other, according to psychologists. In fact, clinical psychologist Deborah Grody says, married couples who don't have any conflict are often the ones who end in divorce.
All Couples Fight: Learn to Do It Better
It's true that all couples fight, but not all couples know how to do it well. When couples don't have the skills to fight well, the fights can be explosive, painful, and damaging to the relationship.