Unless you and your partner co-exist completely free of conflict, disagreements are par for the course in relationships. The person with whom you spend most of your time won’t always be the most pleasant company, but there are certain things couples who fight fair always do when the situation becomes a little tense…and some things they never do.
Raising your voice, losing your temper or refusing to be accountable for your role all constitute things you can’t do when you argue with your partner — at least not if you want to resolve the issue in a way that minimizes hurt feelings and drama.
On the other hand, if you actually want to resolve the issue like two grown-ass individuals, here are a few things couples who fight fair do, along with some unproductive tactics they steer clear of during an argument.
This probably comes after one (or several) unsuccessful fights, but couples who fight fair set rules for engaging that they each adhere to so they can handle disagreements in a healthy way, like setting a time limit on how long they talk through an issue (never-ending arguments are the worst) or agreeing to never argue in public.
Anyone who’s ever been to therapy has learned this effective way of communication: Instead of dishing out low blows about your partner by saying critical stuff like, “Not allowing me to pick the restaurant was completely self-centered and unfair,” couples who fight fair make statements that emphasize the problematic behavior and how it made them feel.
A better way to phrase the complaint would be, “When you don’t allow me to pick the restaurant, it makes me feel like my opinions don’t matter.”
Honestly, fighting in a relationship isn’t high on anyone’s priority list (or at least, it shouldn’t be), so it’s perfectly understandable to want to completely disengage when your partner has a bone to pick with your behavior. But in doing so, you can expect to leave your partner feeling completely isolated, unheard, and unwilling to hear you out when the tables turn (oh, and they absolutely will).
And in case you’re wondering, half-assed, passive-aggressive apologies like “I’m sorry if you felt that way” or “I’m sorry you’re upset” absolutely DO NOT count.
This means no derailing the convo to talk about something that pissed you off two years ago. Stick to the topic at hand and avoid snowballing by adding unrelated issues.
Bottom line is there’s no f*cking yelling in healthy arguments.
No matter how angry they become, couples who fight fair don’t insult one another. As tempting as it may be to hit your partner below the belt with some harsh words, it won’t do much to solve the problem, but it will definitely help to hurt their feelings and send the argument spiraling out of control.
LISTEN. Being interrupted when you’re trying to make your point is dismissive, inconsiderate, rude, and infuriating, so keep that in mind when you’re tempted to talk over your partner.
Regardless of what your ego says, you are not the center of the universe. A partnership revolves around the needs of all parties, so keep this in mind when hashing out issues with your S.O.
Sure, it might be your partner’s fault that you two are late everywhere you go, but phrasing it in a way that places blame on your partner actually hurts the relationship.
As Psychology Today explains about the negative impacts of blaming:
“Blaming reduces intimacy. It’s obviously difficult to get close to someone or to maintain a close relationship when they have their arm outstretched with an accusing finger. In contrast to the road of self-blaming and low self-esteem, the act of blaming may also result in defensive behavior and bitter feelings from the blame.”
Sure, it feels great to be right, and it would probably wipe that smug smirk off your partner’s face if you proved your point beyond the shadow of a doubt. But fighting in a relationship isn’t like a court case: There’s no prize or absolution of guilt for the person who wins.
While we’ve all had our share of relationship knock-down drag-outs, studies show that couples who make good use of effective arguing techniques enjoy more fulfilling romantic partnerships.
So, feel free to argue with your significant other. Just make sure you’re doing it the right way.