Tips on How to Fight Nicely

September 15, 2010 Theresa Fung

There are a few things that most people tend to avoid like the plague: anything with a runny nose or a cough, sticky chairs, and getting into arguments with your partner. The former has terribly banal consequences (catching cold and getting a sticky seat), but the latter is often wildly unpredictable which is probably why we tend to avoid it. Who knows exactly how a supposedly innocent conversation turns into a full-blown screaming match? Who can predict exactly how we or our partners will react after hearing criticism?

Fighting - The Unlocked Life, Relationships

As much as most of us tend to avoid confrontations with our partners, fighting (healthy fighting, that is) is good for your relationship. I know some couples who claim to never fight. I used to think, “Who are these people? And how do I become more like them?” But the more I learn about these non-fighters, the more I realize that they don’t have some magic potion that gives them extra-human patience; it’s that important issues are rarely discussed in an attempt to maintain the peace. Any serious relationship eventually leads to inevitable unpleasant conversations or arguments.

Here are a few tips on how to fight healthy:

  • Avoid name-calling. Resorting to immature school-yard tactics may bring about immediate guilty satisfaction to the name-caller but only serves to escalate the fight.
  • Leave the past in the past. If you’ve already made amends to a prior issue then you are simply adding more ammunition to the argument by bringing up the past.
  • Avoid absolute terms such as “always” and “never.” For example, “You always take me for granted and never take me out anymore.” Using absolute terms immediately puts your partner in defense mode.
  • Don’t drag others into the argument. “You know who else thinks you’re cheap? My friend Kristin.” Once the fight is over, your partner will remember what you said and resent your so-called friend. Besides, if the argument doesn’t involve other people, keep it that way.
  • Take a break if you need to. Who made up that rule about never going to sleep angry? I’ve often gone to bed full of rage but woke up with a much calmer, clearer perspective. There’s no point staying up all night if you’re getting tired and grumpier as long as you both agree to re-visit the topic soon.
  • Make a criticism sandwich. You start by paying your partner a compliment, put in a slice of criticism, and soften it by saying something nice to your partner again. For example, “Honey, you’ve been really great at helping more around the house, but it really bugs me when you don’t put your dirty dishes in the sink. It would help me a lot if you could remember to do this.”

Like with most things in life, healthy fighting requires effort and practice and often gets easier the longer you’ve been together. If you and your partner are able to argue constructively, the bond between you is reinforced and you often feel closer to one another. Besides, the best part about fighting is making up.

APA Reference
Fung, T. (2010, September 15). Tips on How to Fight Nicely, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 15 from

Author: Theresa Fung

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