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Fair Fighting Rules for Couples to Save Relationship

Fair Fighting Rules for Couples to Save Relationship

Updated on Oct 19, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Fair Fighting Rules for Couples to Save Relationship


So, you’re here to know about fair fighting rules… because you and your partner fight a lot.

Well, let me first tell you: A happy relationship is not where couples don’t fight at all. A happy relationship is when the couple fights fair.

When two individuals with individual thoughts and POVs align, disagreements are bound to happen. But how you find common ground on that disagreement is what makes the entire difference.

You both may have fought endless times, but are you sure you were fair all the time? Probably, NOT!

It may be because you didn’t know about the fair fighting rules. But not anymore because this think-piece will tell you all that you need to know about fighting fair.

…and trust me, it makes a world of a difference in your relationship.

Fair Fighting Rules Infographic

What is Fair Fighting and 11 Fair Fighting Rules for Couples
What is Fair Fighting and 11 Fair Fighting Rules for Couples

What are Fair Fighting Rules?

Fair fighting rules are a set of rules that ensure your discussions are carried out peacefully, and you both come to a well-thought and progressive conclusion for a better future.

This will help you gain a better perspective of the situation, the other person, and both of your goals and needs.

Fair Fighting Rules for Couples

Do your discussions naturally become ugly fights? Perhaps, you don’t even realize when some silly arguments take the face of a disaster. You don’t understand why none of your debates and discussions yield desired results.

…because you’re not Fighting Fair!

If this situation is true for you, it’s high time you must take the help of fighting fair rules. And hey, you’re not alone, pal! There are so many like you. So, without further ado, let’s head right in!

1. Take Turns Speaking

The best results by following fair fighting rules can be attained only with two-way communication.

Give your partner the chance to make a point. Have you ever had an argument where your partner was talking over you and giving you no chance to speak?

How did you feel? Think about that situation and how your partner feels when you feel the urge to interrupt.

Before you begin, identify the actual reason. Are you upset because you’re doing most part of the household chores? Or is it something else? Clarify your emotions before getting into an argument.

2. Avoid the “Kitchen Sink Argument”

It is not unusual to get overwhelmed and lash out all the complaints you have with your partner. If you are arguing about dishes then don’t throw in “the kitchen sink”.

This means throwing in all the past grudges you might be having. Take care of your mental health by not bringing in the past. 

3. Avoid Yelling in Fair Fighting

Yelling is never the solution in fair fighting. This is supported by the 7% rule. Research suggests what you actually say accounts for only 7% of the credibility while your tone accounts for a whopping 38%. Once the yelling starts, you will soon be arguing about arguing!

Make a conscious effort to avoid raising your voice. And if you’re close to the yelling point, take a time-out and come back to the issue after a stipulated time.

Statements like, “I am trying to understand but we have to stop yelling first” can help turn the heat down.

4. Deal with One Issue at a Time

“You shouldn’t be leaving the towel on the floor” can quickly turn into “You don’t care about the house”. This makes the argument more complicated as you have so many issues to deal with.

Proving your “rightness” by pointing out others’ “wrongness” can be tempting. But avoid getting into the vicious circle as this will make the situation critical. You might even forget why you were arguing in the first place! 

5. Communicate

Nobody can read your mind. So, the silent treatment and expecting the other person to know what you are mad about will rarely work. Good communication can do wonders in fair fighting.

Research shows that people expecting their partners to read their minds feel more neglected. Thus, be open and be honest. This will resolve the issue at hand faster rather than running in circles.

Avoid stonewalling and refusing to speak. The best way to resolve a conflict is by taking responsibility and communicating.

6. Avoid Accusing and Attacking the Person

Getting personal and “attacking” the other person on areas of sensitivity can leave a scar on the relationship even after the fight is resolved. Remember, you can’t take your words back.

Hence, attack the issue, not the person. Further, accusations lead to self-defense. This will make your partner defensive rather than focusing on problem-solving. Inflicting pain just to prove your point leads nowhere.

7. Avoid Generalizing in Fair Fighting

Instead of using words like “always” and “never”, get particular about the problem. Present specific examples to your partner so that he/she can understand where you are coming from.

What comes after generalization is the explanation of the exception. You don’t want to inflame the issue but cool it down.

8. Watch out for the Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Be careful about using sentences like “You’ll perhaps not like hearing this but…”, or “I’m just being honest…” or “I don’t mean to criticize you but…”.

We all know what follows after such statements – a whole lot of accusations. This will turn the argument in a war of words and you certainly don’t want it. One of the fair fighting rules is to cut to the point and avoid passive-aggressiveness. 

9. Use “I” Statements and Take Responsibility of Your Words

Instead of instigating the blame game of “you came late”, or “you did that”, try using “I” statements. “I do not like when you get angry” or “I feel hurt when you show up late” are good ways to express your emotions.

This makes sure that you are taking responsibility and not just blaming the other person.

10. Be Attentive in Fair Fighting

Attention is the most important thing you can give to your partner in a heated situation. There are two things that could happen due to your lack of attention.

Firstly, the argument will never come to an end until you pay attention. Secondly, the argument may turn into the issue of you “never listen” and you “don’t care”.

So, be respectful to your partner and pay the deserved attention.

11. Find the Common Ground

Lastly, if none of the fair fighting rules works, try to find common ground with your partner. Not every time you will have the same opinions, and that is acceptable.

The important aspect here is understanding the point of view of your partner and acknowledging it. Try initiating statements like, “So, we both agree…”.

12.  Remember You’re in Love…Not War

Everything is fair in love… and war. But not when love becomes war.

So, as soon as the situation triggers anger in you, remind yourself that you love this person.

Don’t let the domestic discussion turn into a war. You’re talking to your life partner, your soulmate, not your enemy.

13. Regulate your emotions

According to studies, women experience ample mood swings during their menstrual phase. Too many hormonal changes cause instability of emotional health, which invites meaningless fights. You may end up fighting on silly matters, only to regret it later.

Similarly, a man who had a stressful day at work is likely to release the anger at home and fight with his spouse.

So, for both men and women, it’s crucial to understand the nature of their own emotions. You’re not your emotions. Certain situations compel you to feel and act in a certain way.

Keep track of your emotions, and manage your reactions accordingly.

Also, if you see your partner angry, try to understand them before reacting to their anger.

14. Never lash out in public

Things become nasty when you don’t draw a line between your private and public life.

Your emotions, your frustration, and your partner are part of your private life. Don’t display them in public.

Outsiders mustn’t know what’s brewing in your personal life. Don’t become fodder for gossip. Don’t make your partner uncomfortable in front of other people.

Instead, reach home, discuss with them what’s been bothering you, and then find the solution.

15. Don’t initiate critical discussions when tired

Raising a debate when you’re tired induces two probabilities:

  • You speak meaningless words and the discussion turns into a fight.
  • You withdraw from the discussion and go to sleep, only to leave it unresolved.

When your brain and body are exhausted, you lose the capacity to think before you speak. So, make sure you never bring up an important topic before your partner after an exhausting day.

16. Avoid discussing empty stomach

You may call it a superstitious belief, but this is age-old advice from elders. Don’t debate when hungry.

Hunger is an indication that your body, including your mind, needs nutritional fulfillment. It is the same as feeling deprived of something. When you’re already dissatisfied with an empty stomach, you will not be able to fill other parts of your life.

17. Practice self-control

I completely understand the urge to discuss and solve the matter right away, but if your spouse is not ready for it, the attempts will invite further trouble. So, instead, hold yourself back until they’re on the same page as you.

So, before you strike a conversation, do a background check. Ensure…

  • Their health is fine.
  • They are happy.
  • They are willing to discuss.

You both can mutually decide a day and time, if they aren’t willing to discuss the matter immediately.

18. Don’t ignore an issue for long

Never, I repeat, NEVER ignore the issues for too long. This may look like a temporary relief but in the long run, it will hamper the relationship like never before.

Most people think that a discussion can invite conflict. Well, maybe yes; only if you don’t know the right way of discussing it.

What’s the right way? Find out with the next rule.

19. Organize your expression

We cannot control or organize ‘how we feel’. But, we can definitely organize the way we express our feelings. So, plan your confrontation in advance and don’t use words that can trigger them.

The pre-planning will ensure that your words are well thought out and meaningful. So, “please don’t do this” will not come out as “don’t irritate me!”…

20. Start with a disclaimer

The safest way to discuss an issue is to start with a disclaimer. So, don’t dive straight into the conversation, instead start with.

  • We are going to sort it out peacefully.
  • We love each other truly, and nothing can change it.
  • We can’t live without each other.
  • We are each other’s support and not enemies.
  • We won’t judge, we will understand.

Try to stick to the pledge you’ve taken all throughout the conversation. Even if you fail, at least you tried. With practice, you’ll master this trick too.

21. Don’t blame them

Stop the blame game right away if you don’t want your relationship to have a premature end.

Remember, you both accepted each other as partners. So, you’re a team, not competitors.

Don’t hold them responsible for all the problems in your relationship. Instead, believe that you’re both wrong and find a solution to it.

22. Don’t take advantage of their weaknesses

That’s the worst you can do to the person you love. Never, I repeat, NEVER press your partner’s trigger points to hurt them… even if you’re hurting yourself.

If you’ve done this before, don’t bash yourself because you’re not alone. Many of us resort to this inhumane strategy when we start losing a debate. But the good thing is, you can tell them sorry about it and make sure you never repeat this again.

23. Don’t call out divorce or breakup

It’s very easy to say, “I want divorce” but meet a couple going through a divorce or break up in their real life. I promise you, you won’t say the same, ever.

Many times, we utter the D-word just in the heat of the moment. But I don’t mean it. But as a listener, it means exactly what it sounds. Nothing more, nothing less.

It means you want separation. And that scars their heart in a manner that no love can ever heal.

24. Don’t keep counting wins

‘I’m always right’. ‘You’re always wrong’.

Do you say this often? DON’T

Some of us are insanely ambitious when it comes to winning a debate. Breathe, pal! It’s your better half. Competing with your partner is detrimental.

Don’t count: who did what? How many times? What loss did it bring?

Even if they accept that you’re right, don’t make them feel wrong.

25. Don’t fight in front of children

Imagine someone asking your kid: How are your parents as a couple? What would they answer?

Children with fighting parents go through tremendous mental pressure. So much so that they often face an existential crisis. Worse, then you can pick some words from your conflicts and use them with friends. I’m sure you don’t want to. No parent ever wants that.

So, make sure your child never sees you fighting like cats and dogs.

Moreover, remember, your children are too young to pick one of you. Maybe you guys are grown-up adults, and you can live your life alone, feeding your individual desires. But your children need both of you.

26. Don’t leave them wounded

Forget about who started the fight. Despite the situation, don’t leave them wounded with your words. It’s equally wrong to withdraw from an ongoing conversation. Don’t ask them to leave you alone, either. Both of you must learn to tolerate each other’s presence even in disagreeable situations.

There is a difference between giving space to someone and leaving someone alone after hurting them. The second one makes them feel detached and unworthy.

Tip: Feel free to take a 2-minute break and do some meditation. Come back to discuss the matter peacefully.

27. Never go in circles

“Please help the children in their studies” can go dramatically wrong if said as “who cares about the children’s studies?” Feel the difference?

Never fire indirectly or bring past issues in your present conversations. Keep your discussion to the point and crisp. You must only address the current problem.

28. Don’t assume their response

Do you have a habit of assuming your partner’s response? And then you quote their speeches? Now, that’s super irritating! Also, things like: “I knew this would come up”… feels like you’ve some special sixth sense, and others are fools!

Trust me, this is where your partner will lose their calm. So swear on your intelligence that you won’t repeat this again.

29. Don’t allow a third party inside

All your marital issues, family problems, and other discussions must be reserved between you and your spouse. No third party can be your rescue.

Allowing a third party between your discussions creates a distance between you and your partner. However grave the issue may be, discuss it with your partner ONLY. If you both can solve it mutually, great. If not, scroll to the 40th rule.

30. Never use physical force

I don’t think this needs further explanation. No Physical Force Should Ever be Practiced or Tolerated. Period.

Don’t be physically violent, definitely not on your partner, yourself, any other living being, or even inanimate objects… furniture, glass, or anything… just don’t!

Violence can never solve an issue… it’s abuse.

31. Take time-out

Just when you think the arguments are starting to get dirty, take a time out! At this time, remind yourself how much you love this person. A 2-minute cooling-off period is all that you need.

You can say, “Okay honey, I love you. Let’s just take 2 minutes off. Let’s cool down, and come back to it?”

Trust me, when you come back, you both will have a better perspective and understanding of the problem.

32. Choose happiness over victory

Losing a debate is better than losing your love… right?

Challenges, difficulties, and problems approach you themselves. But happiness is a choice. So, on days when your partner refuses to understand the “right” thing, dump it and move on.

Buddy, the victory would mean nothing if, in the end, you get to see your beloved’s defeated face.

After all, in love, there’s no ‘you’ and ‘me’; it’s always ‘we’. Defeating your beloved defeats your love as a whole.

33. Laugh it off!

No, don’t crack sarcastic jokes during fights. That’s a blunder. Develop a real sense of humor over time, as it will definitely help you in the long run.

“I’ll slap you!” is a very common sentence. Imagine your partner saying this furiously. Now, imagine your partner saying it with fun. Does it make a difference? A big one!

Humor can come in really handy when life puts you in a spot and you don’t have any control over it.

34. Flexibility for the win

Relationships cannot survive without a few compromises. No, don’t sacrifice everything you have but at least be more accepting.

Be the bigger person.

It’s fine if they don’t accept their mistakes right away. Wait for the right time, and I promise you they’ll soon be apologetic for their behavior.   

Tip: Don’t tell them where they went wrong. Instead, ask them to help you find a solution and in the process, they will realize it themselves.

35. Don’t hold grudges

Small arguments are an inevitable part of relationships. So, don’t hold on to them. People who love you tend to say a lot of hurtful things when they are mad, but that doesn’t mean they mean them all.

Remember the times they stood by you and made sure you didn’t fall. Anger is temporary… and love, that is permanent.

Just think of it as a bad dream and move on. Crying and complaining about it will hurt you even more. Instead, forget and forgive.

36. Admit to your faults

Accepting mistakes is not a sign of failure. In fact, it is a sign of strength. It says that you’re capable of putting your ego on the side for your relationship.

So, the next time you say or do something that hurts your partner, don’t hesitate for even a moment to apologize.

37. Do not label them

Your partner might have some very prominent habits in their personality. But don’t label them for it that is discriminatory or worse, disrespectful.

That’s not just an insult, but it also shows how insensitive you are.

38. Seek your partner’s feedback

Often while making critical discussions, a lot of us tend to forget that there are two people in it – you and your partner.

Don’t do that or it will make your partner feel unheard.

Instead, say your version and then seek your partner’s feedback on it… and slowly walk to a place where you both are winning.

39. Listen!

Yes, this is one of the top fair fighting rules that people often miss out on.

LISTEN. Yes, just listen.

Often, when you are in-between arguments, you tend to dismiss what your partner is saying and just keep speaking to yourself. Don’t do that. Instead, give your partner the space to speak and raise their concerns as well… and make sure you listen to them too.

40. Take a professional’s help

If at all you plan to allow any third party in your discussion, it must be a professional relationship expert. Go to a licensed therapist if you want.

It will widen your thought process and help you view a situation from a different perspective. You will come out with a more optimistic decision.

So, that’s all the fair fighting rules you should know about, but there are 40 of them… how is it possible for you to remember all of them at once, especially when you’re angry? Don’t worry, I’ve made things simple for you. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide for a fair fight…

Fighting Fair Rules – Step-by-Step

Before we begin with a step-by-step guide to fair fighting rules, you mustn’t skip one basic fundamental step.

…and that is,

Take a pause.  

The moment you see your nerves running rapidly, your temperature rising, feeling disgusted and angry until you’re red, TAKE A PAUSE.

And here is what to do after that…

1. Know the WHAT and WHY

Ask yourself,

  • What is the concern?
  • What outcome do you want?
  • Are your demands fair?
  • Are you being reasonable or rational about it?

You are not here to win or lose. You’re here to bring a productive and effective change in your relationship.

Now that you have got answers to all your WHAT and Why (s)…

2. Know HOW

Now is the time to find out how you will reach your desired outcome. Make sure you choose an ethically correct and mature process.

3. Know the WHEN

…and set a time for this discussion. Try to keep it as soon as possible, and don’t bring it up if your partner is not prepared for it.

Find out if it is the right time for discussion. If not, don’t try to force it. If yes, be 100% sure before you proceed.

4. Know the WHERE

Make sure that you don’t fight in public or in front of your children. In fact, only you two must be in the room.

5. Don’t start with blame games

If you satisfy the above conditions, start the conversation with facts and not their mistakes.

Remember, this discussion isn’t about what the other person did, it’s mainly about what has happened and how you felt about it. Therefore focus on using ‘I’ rather than ‘you’.

6. Be an active listener

Listen to each and every word they say. Never try to step over or speak in between.

You can also repeat what they said so that they know you’ve understood their message correctly. Tell them to do the same when it’s your turn.

7. Be empathetic

Do not just hear them… rather, put yourself in their shoes to understand their POV better. While you do that, you may realize that it isn’t completely wrong.

Well, if things are getting heated up, follow the time-out rule. Take a two minutes break, and be back.

8. To find solutions, be creative

Get out of your comfort zone and find as many possible solutions to the problem you both are facing. Create maximum options for both you and your partner, and then vote for the best. 

9. Never hesitate to adjust  

Both parties must agree and adjust. It’s never a one-way street.

10. And finally, follow-up!

Define a time for the future when you can again meet and discuss whether or not things have actually been resolved. If not, try some other ways or consider seeking a professional’s help.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Finally, to wrap up this piece, let me tell you one last rule that is the summary of all – The fight is not bigger than the love you both share.

So, love your partner through all the ups and downs of this journey but most importantly, respect them. If a few lifestyle changes can make this better, go ahead and give it a try. But if it is too grave, sit down and discuss how things can move ahead.

Are you interested to know more about ‘The Grass is Greener Where You Water It. Practice It.’ then click here?