Fighting Fair in Love Relationships

In our love relationships, what are some things we can do to avoid fights?

My husband and I have not had many fights. Partly because neither of us are hot-tempered and partly because we both tend to shy away from confrontation. Nevertheless, we still do have the occasional fight. I was recently asked to provide some tips on fighting fair for a women’s magazine. My first thought was to try to prevent the fight from happening in the first place. In other words, why not aim for a fight-free relationship?

The first key to maintaining a great relationship is having a weekly date with your spouse or partner.

If you don’t take time away from the house, work and the kids to spend some romantic, quality time together at least once a week for a few hours then how can you expect to feel romantic about your partner? It will fade!

Keep the romance alive with a weekly date. It doesn’t have to be a fancy dinner at an expensive restaurant either. One of our best dates was ordering Chinese to go and having that with a bottle of wine on the beach watching the sunset. You might pack a basket of gourmet goodies and have a picnic. Cheap and creative can often be more fun, and essential if you are worried about money. The important thing is to try to get out of the house for a change of scene (away from the kids if you have them). This is your time to be a couple. [If you want to save money on a baby-sitter for the kids, try swapping babysitting with another couple with kids. You go out on Friday nights and they go out on Saturdays and one of the couple does the babysitting].

Second, if you notice that you or your partner is angry for any reason, give yourself or your partner permission to be angry.

We will all get angry at one time or another. Usually it is over pretty silly stuff. I remember one of my earliest fights with Paul was whether one should wash or brush mushrooms!

Ask your mate how long they need to be angry. This does two things. First, it gives them the right to be angry. Second,  it gives them as much time as they need to cool off. There is no point in having any sort of discussion if one or both of you is heated. Wait until you can cool off and discuss things in a calm voice. Your partner might say, “Give me five minutes.” Or, he or she might say, “I need a few hours.” Then, give them the time they asked for and don’t try to interact or talk to them until they are ready. Try it and you’ll be amazed. My husband laughed the first time I did this and it diffused the tension immediately.

Third, we underestimate the amount of disagreement that is acceptable in a love relationship.

We tend to see only the happier side of our friends and assume that our own marriage or relationship is more contentious or isn’t working because we can’t agree on simple things.

In reality, most couples have loads of disagreements about both little and big things, from politics to religion, to money and how to best raise the children– to the choice of fabric for the sofa or what to eat for dinner tonight. Disagreement is normal and to be expected. The key to keeping your love relationships happy and healthy is often to agree to disagree. Who ever said you have to agree on everything? It is okay to have areas you just don’t discuss in order to keep the peace in your relationship. And, sometimes we need to really hash out a disagreement and see if we can’t come to terms.

I’m thinking of one couple that was having massive fights about whether to sell their home and move or not. The wife liked the home and was loathe to move. The husband didn’t like the house and wanted to move. After numerous arguments and discussions, they both realized that they wanted the same ultimate objective–to be able to settle into a home and neighborhood they liked for life. Once she realized that her husband would never feel completely at home in their house, she agreed to put it up for sale. They moved to a house they both liked in the same neighborhood.

If you keep working at your disagreements you may well find a solution that works for both of you.

Keep discussing things until you come to a resolution that you both can live with. In this case, the wife agreed that the hassle of a one time move would be worth her husband’s long term happiness.

Here are 4 key questions excerpted from the 101 Relationship Quiz you might want to ask each other that can help prevent problems in your personal relationships from occurring:

1. What’s our code word to use during a conversation or argument when one of is getting hurt and a time out is needed?

2. What can we do to avoid arguing or fighting entirely? Is it possible?

3. When we argue, how will you take responsibility for your part of the problem?

4. What about our living situation (financial situation, family situation, children, work) is likely to give us a recurring problem or spark an argument?

Finally, It helps to focus on the things you do have in common and the things you enjoy doing together whether that is going to the theater or traveling. Book that date night this week!



P.S. The full Relationship Quiz is available as part of the Coach Yourself to Success Online program for our online coaching members and our 1:1 Coaching clients.

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