Alexa Gelles

Relationship Conflict

5 Tips to Fight Fair With Your Partner

June 5, 2023

The Counsellor Behind The Blog
Hey, I’m Alexa! I’m a Registered Clinical Counsellor based in Vancouver, B.C. I’ve curated this blog specifically for you to answer your most pressing questions about counselling and building healthy relationships.

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Every couple experiences disagreements—it’s a natural and even healthy part of any relationship. However, what truly matters is how you approach those conflicts. The key is to fight fair.

Fighting fair means engaging in difficult conversations where both partners can express themselves openly, without fear of things spiralling out of control.

Here are five practical tips to help you fight fair:

1. Find the Right Time:

Before engaging in a discussion, make sure to find a suitable time when both of you are calm and in the right headspace. Recognize your emotions and be honest with yourself about whether you’re ready to have a calm conversation or if it’s better to wait until you’ve both calmed down. Setting the right environment from the start will greatly improve the chances of a constructive dialogue.

2. Make It Personal:

When expressing your thoughts and emotions, it’s common for your partner to feel blamed, even if it wasn’t your intention. To avoid this, focus on making the conversation about yourself—your thoughts, feelings, and assumptions. Avoid blaming statements and instead use I-statements (e.g., “I feel sad because we haven’t had a chance to connect”). This approach helps your partner listen without getting defensive, creating a more open and understanding environment.

3. Address Issues Promptly:

Procrastinating on discussing problems can lead to negative emotions accumulating and tensions building up. Avoid the trap of throwing a lot of negativity at your partner or using statements like “you always” or “you never.” Instead, address issues as they arise and tackle one matter at a time. This approach ensures that your partner can truly hear and respond to your concerns without feeling overwhelmed.

4. Take Turns Speaking:

While we learn the importance of taking turns speaking as children, it’s easy to forget this rule as adults. When engaging in a fair fight, remember to give each other equal opportunities to express yourselves. Avoid monopolizing the conversation with lengthy monologues and create space for your partner to respond and contribute. If either or both of you are primarily focused on defending yourselves, it’s a sign that you’re not truly listening to each other.

5. Take Breaks When Needed:

Lastly, it’s essential to recognize when either of you is feeling triggered or overwhelmed and to take a break from the conversation. Let me put it simply: Engaging in a heated argument or when one person has mentally checked out won’t lead to anything good. It only causes more stress and wastes time without solving anything. Take a break, allow yourselves to calm down, and then return to the discussion with a fresh perspective and a calm state of mind.

Mastering the art of fair fighting requires practice and conscious effort. By implementing these five tips—finding the right time, making it personal, addressing issues promptly, taking turns speaking, and taking breaks when needed—you can greatly improve the way you communicate and address issues with your partner.

Remember, healthy fights are not about winning or losing but about finding common ground and fostering mutual understanding.

If you’re ready to transform your conflicts into opportunities for growth, check out my new program, Fight Fair, designed to guide you through the journey of healthy, productive communication in just nine weeks. Together, you can create a relationship grounded in understanding, respect, and love.

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