This blog aims to help you acknowledge some fair fighting rules so you can resolve your conflicts easily within your relationships.
Relationships are essential for our survival. We need them to maintain a healthy and happy life.
Oftentimes disagreements interrupt healthy relationships causing trouble and misconceptions.
Importance of Fair Fighting Rules
Fair fighting rules help you to clarify all misunderstandings and resolve all issues mindfully by following some rules, known as fair fighting rules.
These rules ensure skillful communication and effective conflict resolution to help you lead a healthy life.
What Kind of Fighter Am I?
Before acknowledging the fair fighting rules and working on your problems, it is important for you to identify the kind of fighter you are.
Recognize your pattern of fighting. Identify if you
- Avoid conflicts frequently
- Feel being attacked by criticisms or disagreements
- Burst out and then regret later on
- Lose control over yourself when you encounter a conflict
- Give up and keep quiet when you are angry
- Remember past mistakes
What Causes Conflict?
Focus on the things that give rise to conflicts in your relationships.
It could be disagreements, change of perspectives, desires, opinions or values that can lead to conflicts in your relationships but the most important part of this is the feelings that emerge from differences.
These feelings give rise to problems.
You need to learn to work on the things that cause conflicts in your relationships and work on resolving them by keeping in view the fair fighting rules mentioned in this blog.
So the fair fighting rules you must follow while tackling your problems are as follows:
1. Maintain Emotional Control
Emotional control is the most essential part of fair fighting. It helps you keep things in control by managing your anxiety, fears or anger.
Calling names, yelling and bringing the other person down to win an argument do not resolve the issue, rather they worsen it.
Some tips that can help you regulate your emotions include:
- Talking about discomforting issues as soon as they arise.
- Keeping your voice low to communicate your words to another person effectively and enable him to listen to you with patience. If he starts yelling, stay calm at that time as well.
- Taking a break when you feel the other person is not understanding your point, relax, calm down and then continue again.
2. Don’t Interrupt Your Partner
The most important rule of fair fighting is not to interrupt your partner.
The key to an effective and constructive argument is to let the other person communicate his emotions and opinions.
Allowing your partner to express his feelings will help release tension and will improve the chances of a successful resolution.
On the other hand, if interrupted and not allowed to express himself, the other person won’t be able to release his tension, opinions, and feelings, and the problem resolution will fail.
Other than avoiding interruption and letting your partner speak, you also have to make sure you are actively listening to his point and understanding it.
This would speed up the conflict resolution. So, talk face to face and listen carefully to what your partner is saying.
3. Be Respectful
Often arguments make us feel out of control. Our speech, accent, voice tone, pitch all change. This may make you feel satisfied but your partner may feel being disrespected.
So avoid anything that results in dishonoring of your partner. Convey your point of view calmly, without disrespecting the other person.
Avoid using slang words, name-calling, yelling or any other types of intimidation.
4. Don’t Fear Conflict
Most of the people think that if they face conflict in their relationships, their relationship would weaken.
This is not true. Conflicts do not weaken the relationship, rather they enable you to tackle all the obstacles in your relationship that are endangering or threatening your relationship.
These conflicts need not be feared. Discussing the conflict effectively and working on it mutually can help resolve it and aids in strengthening the relationship.
The more you try to avoid the conflict, the stronger it becomes and the more are the chances of you to explore.
Therefore you must work on the conflict by talking to your partner about it assertively.
Conflicts give an opportunity to the relationships to grow and strengthen. Conflicts are healthy and essential to maintain a healthy relationship with your partner. Hence these must not be avoided.
Although it is a difficult task, an effective discussion of the conflict with your partner brings out new ways to tackle the issue and learn from one another.
5. Don’t Bring Up the Past
One of the important fair fighting rules is to concentrate on the present and avoid bringing past events in the conflicts. Recalling past mistakes makes your partner feel miserable and resent you.
It makes the other person feel worthless and hopeless. This worsens the situation by diverting focus from the real conflict and the problem remains unresolved.
6. Stay with the Issue At Hand
One must focus on one issue at one time. Recalling past mistakes and predicting future issues will mess up everything.
Effective conflict resolution is only possible if you focus all your attention on the present problem and work on resolving it.
So avoid talking about other issues while discussing one specific issue and refrain from talking about irrelevant things to keep the argument on track and fasten the process of conflict resolution.
7. Don’t Generalize
Save yourself from the trap of thinking errors.
Cognitive distortions such as all or none thinkings, over-generalization etcetera can make you hopeless and make conflict resolution impossible as you would be thinking on the two extremes only.
So make you think broader and think positively, think of all possible solutions to the issues, do not just think on extremes, think in between as well to resolve your issues.
8. Don’t Lash Out
Before discussing the conflict, calm down yourself. Think of all the necessary details you have to discuss the issue.
Then without skipping any one point, say it all one by one, without lashing out.
Preparing yourself before saying things would help you control your emotions when you discuss the issue in real and would maintain the flow.
9. Don’t Criticize
Avoid taunting your partner. If you criticize your partner when you think he made a mistake, this would create unnecessary tension and delay the process of conflict resolution.
So avoid criticizing, give a chance to your partner to talk, listen to him actively and understand him.
It could be possible that your partner did not do anything wrong. Give him a chance to clarify his position.
10. Be Open About Your Needs and Feelings
Talking about your needs and feelings is very important. You need to inform your partner about how you feel and what your needs are because they can not acknowledge it by themselves.
You need to communicate these things to your partner in the most effective way. Knowing the other person’s needs and feelings, and understanding them to resolve various conflicts before their occurrence.
This is because when your partner knows about your needs, he fulfills them before you say it when he knows what makes you feel bad, he ignores doing those things.
Therefore much of the conflicts are avoided and the relationship grows.
11. Don’t Blame
Avoid blaming each other. This is because blaming lowers down the self-esteem and the conflict resolution is delayed.
The argument elongates and all the good things in a relationship start to fade out such as intimacy, love, affection, understanding, trust etcetera.
12. Don’t Mention Divorce or Breakup
Mentioning divorce or breakup must be avoided in a relationship.
This does not help resolve the conflict but hurts each other’s feelings and prolongs the argument.
This also gives rise to more issues such as insecurities, fear of abandonment, hiding feelings and so on.
13. Don’t Leave the Issue Unresolved
Do not leave the issue unresolved. This would only escalate the problem and the issue will come in front of you with a bigger conflict, intense emotions and burst outs.
The conflict has to be resolved to get rid of it, so resolve the issue before it gets worse.
14. Don’t Keep Score
Avoid competing with each other in the argument. You have to resolve the conflict, not make it worse.
So refrain from keeping your scores as it can harm your relationship.
Do not count on each other’s mistakes. Just focus on resolving the conflicts and try your best to be the one to resolve the issue effectively.
Compromise is a necessary element in every relationship. It is also not obligatory for one partner to compromise every time.
Set your boundaries and compromise on the things you can compromise while letting your partner compromise things he can compromise.
Be calm, stay flexible and communicate your needs to your partner in a good way. Sort out solutions that would work for both of you.
16. Keep Your Fights to Yourself
Try to resolve your conflicts by yourself.
Do not invite other people to help resolve your conflicts, this weakens your relationships and may increase distances, misunderstandings, lack of trust etcetera.
17. Don’t Use Physical Force
Do not use violence, physical abuse or other such things that can harm your partner.
18. Use Humor to Break the Tension
Use humor to help you prevent tension. Humor helps you to let go of things, it helps you calm down and focus on being happy.
This prevents conflicts and helps you lead a happy, content life with your partner.
If you fail to resolve your conflicts efficiently, try seeking help from a professional.
A marriage counselor or a therapist can help you resolve your conflicts in the most effective way without letting your relationship be endangered.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
To increase your awareness about fair fighting rules, we recommend you to read the following books;
- The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships by Harriet Lerner. HarperCollins, 1997.
- Messages: The Communication Book by Matthew McKay, Martha Davis, and Patrick Fanning. New Harbinger Publications, 1995.
- Love is Never Enough: How Couples Can Overcome Misunderstandings, Resolve Conflicts, and Solve Relational Problems Through Cognitive Therapy by Aaron T. Beck. Harper Perennial, 1989.
- Fight Fair: Winning at Conflict without Losing at Love Paperback by Tim Downs and Joy Downs (2010)
- Let’s Have It Out: The Bare-Bones Manual of Fair Fighting Paperback by Arthur S. Hough (1991)
Frequently Asked Questions
Question. What does it mean to fight fair?
Answer. Fair fighting means to work on the problem resolution in a respectful, constructive way.
It is an effective way of confronting and dealing with marital life problems between couples.
Question. How do you fight without fighting?
Answer. There are numerous ways of fighting without fighting.
One of these ways includes calming down when you feel exhausted, breathing deeply and resuming the discussion over the conflict.
Another way to fight without fighting is by allowing the other person to express himself freely and enabling him to say what he wants to say calmly.
Question. Is it normal to argue all the time in a relationship?
Answer. Having two fights in a week does not mean your relationship has been finished.
According to Joseph Cilnoa, a psychologist, It is normal to have disagreements and arguments with your partner.
Question. Why does my wife keep bringing up my past?
Answer. This might be because she does not feel she was understood properly as that time by the person who she thought had hurt her.
So better to refer to those past memories as emotions rather than events.
Question. Is an argument a fight?
Answer. Fighting is a harmful action whereas argument is constructive communication when it is done properly.
If the communication is honest and expressive, the arguments can prove to be productive.
Question. How often do normal couples fight?
Answer. The normal couples fight 19 times a month on average.
North Carolina couples tend to fight a bit more frequently with their average fighting rate as 26 per month and South Carolina couples fight 21 times in a month on average.
This blog displayed numerous fair fighting rules for you to follow while arguing on a matter.
Following these rules ensures both the partners have shared their views freely and understood each other properly to enable effective conflict resolution.
If you have any queries or questions, let us know through your comments.
What we recommend for Relationship & LGBTQ issues
- If you are having relationship issues or maybe you are in an abusive relationship then relationship counselling could be your first point of call. Relationship counselling could be undertaken by just you, it does not require more than one person.
If you are dealing with LGBTQ issues then LGBTQ counselling may be a great option for you. Maybe you are confused as to your role and identity or simply need someone to speak to. LGBTQ counsellors are specially trained to assist you in this regard.
Fighting Fair to Resolve Conflict
Fighting Fair in A Relationship: How to Get What You Need and Stay Close While You Do It by Karen Young
30 Fair Fighting Rules for Couples