How to Fight Fairly

I always say that it’s not that a couple fights, but how a couple fights that determines the health and happiness of their relationship. It’s okay to disagree. In fact, it’s a good thing to express your needs and viewpoints regularly or resentments build up!

But there are ways to fight fairly. Here are 3 things to keep in mind:

1. Don’t attack his character

Research shows that couples who consistently attack each other’s character have a stronger likelihood of divorce. Instead of saying, “Of course you didn’t do the dishes. You’re lazy!”, which will put him on the defense – express what frustrates you about the messy kitchen. Speak in terms of ‘I’ rather than ‘you.’

So you may say, “I find it frustrating to come home to a messy kitchen after a long day. What can we do to solve this?”

2. Provide an alternative

When you argue, instead of talking about what’s missing, talk about what you want and need. As a couple, you’re on the same team. Nobody should win or lose an argument. Together, you should find an approach that works better for the family.

3. Take a moment before talking

The old advice to ‘pick your battles’ is wise. Not every fight it worth fighting. If you feel like you’re about to blow up and won’t choose your words carefully, it may be worth counting backwards from 3 to 1 before opening your mouth.

Whenever possible, check in with yourself so you don’t say something you may regret. Most couples recycle fights. So, if you’re going to argue over the same thing again, at least try to express your viewpoint differently so your partner hears you. Staying respectful, providing alternatives and thinking about your approach before speaking is a good start.



About the author

Andrea Syrtash

Contributor to over a dozen relationship advice books. Author of He's Just Not Your Type (And That's a Good Thing); Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband) (Rodale Books 2010 & 2011). Co-Author of It's Okay to Sleep with Him on the First Date: And Every Other Rule of Dating Debunked (Harlequin Non-Fiction, July 2013)