August 13, 2018

How to Have a Fair Fight With an Unwilling Partner

Written by Rachel Eddins

How to Have a Fair Fight With an Unwilling Partner


Maintaining your composure during an argument requires a great deal of self-control. Especially an argument with an intimate partner. Since you’re reading this, you’ve likely made the effort to have a fair fight. That is, you’ve committed to surrendering your unhelpful fighting habits to adopt new communication skills.

However, you may have discovered that, instead of coming alongside you, your partner is sticking to their old habits. Rather than offering you acceptance and a mutual willingness to change, they insist on engaging the same dysfunctional ways.

Does this unwillingness mark the end of a relationship? Ultimately that decision is up to you. But, in handling a partner who won’t fight fair, there are a few things to consider before making such a final decision.

Do It For Yourself

A fair fight is a sort of self-declaration. You’re stating that you want to be the kind of person who doesn’t take cheap shots or behave immaturely. And you’ve made up your mind that you won’t settle for less in your relationships.

Purposefully practice effective communication techniques. Be encouraged by your efforts towards self-betterment. Putting in 100% and doing your best to manage conflict and maintain the connection in your relationship is healthy.

Most people fail to recognize the room for improving themselves, so you’re miles ahead already.

Although it’s more difficult to be the kind of person you desire when your partner chooses not to fight fair, do it for you. You’ve made the commitment to yourself regardless of whether your partner made the same one. Remain confident in your decision.

Draw Your Line in the Sand

Are you partner’s boundaries nonexistent or simply inconsistent? Perhaps you never know what to expect from one interaction to the next. Does your partner resort to stonewalling, defensiveness, or criticism? If so, it’s necessary for you to set your own personal boundaries for your emotional health. In addition, you need to be prepared to reinforce those boundaries firmly.

Simply put, personal boundaries are standards that inform others how to treat you. For example, one boundary might inform your partner that you won’t tolerate yelling or infringement on your personal space. You are well with your rights to draw a line if you feel unsafe, disrespected, or dismissed.

Respectfully inform your partner that you’ll no longer support unfair behavior.

Establishing personal boundaries teaches your partner what you will and will not put up with during a conflict. Although you care about your partner, you certainly don’t need to partake in behavior that is harmful to you or maligns your connection.


Form an Anger Management Plan

Most likely, there are two reasons that you made the effort to increase your own communication and learning how to have a fair fight. The first reason is to improve yourself. The second is that you probably want to make your relationship better.

Both are positive motivations for practicing healthy conflict skills. Still, when your efforts are ignored, shot down, or receiving negative feedback, it can be difficult to stay calm. After all, you likely felt that making this effort would pay off. Realizing that it’s not rubbing off on your partner can lead to discouragement, resentment, and anger.

This is where you may need to adopt an anger management plan.

Dealing with your feelings about the conflict, your partner’s unfair tactics, and their refusal to cooperate can be mentally exhausting. To the point where you fail to stick to your own fair fighting rules. You might be tempted to lash out or resort to old tactics.

For this reason, it’s vital to create a safety net for yourself. When you feel things getting out of hand, take a step back and make a commitment to revisit the conversation later.

Learn to Have a Fair Fight With Help From a Therapist

If you’re struggling with a partner who won’t fight fair, don’t go it alone. Please make an appointment for couples’ therapy. Give us a call to schedule an appointment in Houston at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online. We’d love to help you navigate your emotions, reclaim your calm and focus, and improve your relationship as much as possible.

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