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There’s a Better Way to Argue: Let Relationship Therapy Teach You How to Fight Fair

fight fair in relationships couple holding hands

In relationship therapy, you can learn how to minimize your role in unnecessary arguments.

You can’t have a relationship without arguments. Occasional disagreement is part of having any contact with another human being. The goal of relationship therapy isn’t to teach you how to avoid all arguments, but to teach you a better way to argue. In relationship therapy, you can learn how to minimize your role in unnecessary arguments. Sometimes you just need to clear the air. The real goal is to teach you how to fight fair when arguments can’t be avoided.

5 Ways to Fight Fair

1. Set the Stage on Neutral Ground

When you know that you need to have a tough conversation with someone you love, it’s important to be mindful of the importance of the setting. Not every environment is neutral. This can create an imbalance of power or make the argument more contentious from the start. Avoid emotionally charged rooms like the bedroom. If you know in advance that you have to discuss something that may lead to a fight, choose a setting that may limit your ability to get carried away, like your car or a public place. But in the case of serious issues, you may want to have the guidance of a therapist.

2. Make Sure Both of You Are in the Right Frame of Mind

Part of fighting fair is deciding to postpone the argument when one of the participants is at a disadvantage. If your spouse is really tired or under a lot of stress from work, that’s not a good circumstance to have a rational discussion. Similarly, it’s not a good idea to have a fight if either or both of you have been drinking. If you discuss difficult issues when one of you is feeling less rational than normal, the potential for hurt feelings is greater. You also won’t easily be able to reach a compromise. Table the debate until everyone is feeling better.

3. Stick to the Subject

A sure sign of an unfair fight is when the topics wander all over the place. Let’s say you’re upset that your spouse overspent and you’re worried about money. This is not the time to bring up your annoyance with socks being left on the floor. Even though feeling frustrated with your partner may make you look at all their habits with more irritation, stick to the topic that’s at the heart of the issue.

4. Avoid the Low Blows

Good relationships make you feel safe. When you feel safe with someone, you’re more likely to share the vulnerable parts of yourself. Anything that your partner has told you in confidence at any point in your relationship should be off-limits during a fight. Using these zingers in a fight may make you feel powerful, but the damage they do to your relationship can be long-lasting. Bringing up past mistakes that you’ve already previously forgiven is another low blow you want to avoid. You don’t want to win the fight but lose your relationship.

5. Keep Things Private Whenever Possible

Most of your relationship struggles should be kept between you and your partner whenever possible. If your children see anger flare up between you, it’s also good for them to see you resolve it (even if it’s a temporary resolution.) While our friends and family can be helpful in many circumstances, putting them in the middle of a fight is unfair to your spouse. Using family members or friends to stack more weight on your side creates bad feelings between them and your spouse. Once the current argument is resolved, your friends and family will still remember the fight and may have a more negative view of your spouse.

Remember: the goal in fighting fair is to clear the air and resolve issues, not to win. You may not be able to completely avoid ever having another argument. But when you fight fair, the disagreements can actually make your relationship stronger.

Learn more about Relationships and Marriage Counseling and a better way to argue from Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, TX. Contact one of our counselors for help, to get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.

Your attachment style influences how you react to your needs and how you go about getting them met. This brief attachment style quiz will help you understand your own attachment pattern and what implications it might have for your relationships.

Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

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