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It’s no secret that disagreements happen in any relationship, but do you know the fair fighting rules?

No two people are going to agree on 100% of everything, that’s totally normal. It’s very important to develop a healthy way of getting through these disagreements, or they can escalate or turn ugly.

Not fighting fair will keep you from actually working through the issues, making progress, and the fights will continually build and build on each other, usually leading to mega blowout fights.

There’s a big difference in fighting fair and fighting dirty. Here are some basic fair fighting rules to keep in mind for when those disagreements do happen.

They’re important to remember so you can get through these arguments with your partner in a peaceful, respectful manner, and you both can move onto all the good parts of the relationship.

This post on The Best Marriage Books, might also be a good place to start. It’s a list of the highest rated and reviewed marriage and relationship books, and many of them are great tools in helping the two of you work through your issues in a respectful and effective way.

A couple having a disagreement on a bench and following fair fighting rules.

6 Fair Fighting Rules

1. Watch Your Words and Ditch the Insults

No matter how heated you may be, never whip out insults to strengthen your argument.

First of all, they’ll only weaken it. Second of all, you should never try to hurt your partners feelings. It’s immature, mean, and not a healthy way to solve disagreements.

Words cannot be unsaid, so when the fight is said and done, the sting of your insults will last longer than the fight did.

2. Shift the Focus From Your Partner to How You Feel

Avoid phrasing things in terms of what they have done, if possible. For example, phrasing it with “you always”, “you never”, or keeping the focus on what they did, will automatically trigger a defensive response in your partner.

Instead, think about phrasing it in a way that expresses how something made you feel. It opens up the dialogue with your partner because instead of feeling blamed or attacked, they will be hearing your perspective, and hopefully want to fix the issue at hand.

If you come home exhausted to a sink full of dishes and feel like your partner hasn’t helped you out with house work, try to not say “You never help me out,” and instead say “I’m really exhausted right now, would you mind helping me with some of these dishes.”

This shifts what you’ve said from blame being on your partner, to you needing extra help, and the two of you coming together as a team to tackle the chore. You’re much more likely to get the help you want, rather than starting a fight on who does more around the house.

3. Take A Break If Needed

Sometimes it’s hard to not let things get heated, so remind yourself that it’s okay to take a step back and recollect yourself.

I’m someone that needs a few minutes (or hours) to process, calm down, and think through what I’m trying to say. If I speak in the heat of the moment, I usually end up saying something I regret. I come from a much more emotional place, rather than a calm and rational place.

Give your partner the freedom to do the same.

Write things down if you need to, maybe putting things on paper would help you think some things through.

4. Pinpoint Source Of The Disagreement

Is this an argument caused by hunger, stress, tired, or just a bad day? Take a minute to reflect on what is causing this, and maybe save the conversation for later when you’ve taken care of your personal needs.

Is it caused by an unsolved issue in the relationship that keeps coming back up as a smaller issues?

For example, perhaps you have some feelings of resentment towards your partner about not being affectionate enough. But instead of tackling that issue, it comes up in small disagreement here and there about picking where you’re eating for date night, them not making the bed in the morning, or other little things that aren’t the actual root of your unhappiness.

Deal with the main issue at hand. You’ll end up both eliminate the little fights that keep bubbling up over nothing, and tackling the main issue. Even if you’re avoiding it, you need to face the issue together as a team, in order to move past it.

5. Listening Is Key

For any healthy conversation or disagreement, your partner has to feel like they are getting heard, just as you do. Try to hear them out, don’t interrupt.

Don’t just nod along, waiting till you get to speak again, and think about what you want to say next. Really listen.

The book, I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extrordinary Relationships, can be a big help in working on this skill.

Try to not get defensive, which I know can be difficult. But if you get defensive every time something gets brought up, your partner will feel less and less comfortable being able to bring an issue up to work through. Which will result in this issue and future issues never being addressed properly.

Feel free to share with your partner the point above (#2) on how to phrase things in a way that won’t encourage a defensive reaction from your partner. Although do this when things are calm, not mid argument.

A couple having a fight on a bed.

6. Be Honest

Don’t keep secrets in order to keep the peace. It can be difficult to not want to confront certain issues in your relationship, and may feel easier to lie, or keep things to yourself in order to prevent a disagreement.

In reality, you’re doing yourself and your partner a disservice. You can’t keep things bottled up forever. Trying to do this often leads to a blowout, or lots of little disagreements, as mentioned above (#4), since you refuse to deal with the bigger issue at hand.

7. Keep the Blame as Neutral as Possible

Try not to come at whatever the issue is from a perspective of me vs you. Delete the blame from the equation, or distribute it equally. Blaming your partner is only going to encourage defensiveness, and it’s harder to really work through the problem when either side is stuck in that mindset.

Instead, come together as a team to work through the issue. It’s not their fault, or your fault. It’s shared blame, and the two of you are going to come together with an open mind, to work through whatever the issue may be.

8. Remember The Relationship Is What’s Important

Wayyyy more so than being right, or your pride.

Learn to let things go, you’ll both end up happier if you can keep this in mind and not sweat the small stuff.

With any relationship advice, it’s always going to depend on the relationship, so adjust these as you see fit.

But, these rules are a good jumping off point in creating some fair fighting rules of your own for disagreements, and hopefully eliminating the need for (that many) fights at all!

20 Comments on 8 Important Fair Fighting Rules

  1. Oh watching your words is something I am bad at doing… I find that if we get really heated I bring out the mean fighting words and I need to learn to stop doing that! Yo have some great tips and I will be keeping them all in mind! xxx

  2. The advise here is so good!!! I am way worse at getting upset about things than the hubby and I have used many of these techniques… totally work!

  3. I do agree with taking a step back and recollecting yourself. It puts things into perspective & sometimes what you are upset about isn’t worth a fight. Writing things down ALWAYS helps me! Sometimes you forget something important you wanted to mention or discuss with your partner, if you wrote it down you won’t forget.

    • Definitely! Taking a step back always helps me to calm down, gather my thoughts, and most of the time I end up realizing the fight wasn’t even worth it to begin with.

  4. Such practical advise. I favor the idea of taking a break. as sometimes there is need for distance to compose in order oneself to deescalate the conflict

    • Thank you, I’m so glad you think so! Same here. I’m always very emotional in the heat of the moment. Cooling down helps me to be way more rational!

  5. Sometimes I find that when we say “Just remember I love you”, The fight seems to dissipate. Not always, sometimes your too mad to hear “I love you”, but fighting has its own version of vulnerability and I think thats part of the reason people say things they don’t mean or get defensive. It’s part of taking the attention away from the fact that what happened has wounded you in some way. So we ride that line between logical reasons to fight and looking completely insane. At times like that, it’s nice to hear your partner say “Hey this is a heated time and I’m not saying your right, I’m just reminding you that no matter what I’m here to stay.” The fight changes with that. For me, it feels less like I am trying to make a point and more that I’m simply addressing why we got to where we were and seeing what we can do to make it better.

    • That is such a great point. It makes it less about you versus them and instead brings you back together, and its the two of you versus the problem. What a great tip, will be keeping this in mind!! Appreciate you sharing!

    • This is so great, my boyfriend always tells me to remember that he loves me everytime we are having an argument. I have always thought, it was his way of lessening his guilt but after reading your comment, I totally get what he implies.

  6. This is so great, my boyfriend always tells me to remember that he loves me everytime we are having an argument. I have always thought, it was his way of lessening his guilt but after reading your comment, I totally get what he implies.

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