Do You Know How to Fight Fairly With Your Partner? You Should.

Fight Fairly

Shouting. Slamming doors. Silent treatments. Shutting down. Calling names. Cutting off sex. These are some of the most common fighting techniques employed by couples, all of which have no possible way of solving a relationship problem. In and of themselves, they’re emotional, if not child-like, outbursts, designed to punish their beloved. It’s an eye for an eye, and everybody loses.

I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words on this blog since 2008, extolling the virtues of the “easy” relationship, nudging people to consider compatibility on an equal (or greater) footing than chemistry, and pointing out that you can find the hottest, smartest, funniest person in the world and have a miserable life if he or she doesn’t know how to communicate effectively.

You can find the hottest, smartest, funniest person in the world and have a miserable life if he or she doesn’t know how to communicate effectively.

Which is why the title of this latest New York Times piece, The Secret to a Happy Marriage is Knowing How to Fight, is something like, “Water is Wet. News at 11!” It’s no secret that conflict resolution is vital to a happy marriage. What IS surprising, however, is how little mind we pay to this concept we all know so well.

Long story short: it’s impossible to have a smooth, supportive, lasting relationship with someone who invalidates your point of view, shouts over you, undercuts you with criticism, and turns away from your emotional bids for attention – and yet we do this ALL THE TIME, because the person comes in an appealing package. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. If you can’t let down your guard, be real with someone, and safely express your point of view, you’re just putting yourself in the position to be another statistic: either in the 30-40% divorced camp or the 67% unhappily married camp.

There has to be another way.

I wrote a blog post about effective communication here, citing the wisdom in Dr. Jamie Turndorf’s book, Kiss Your Fights Goodbye, which I couldn’t recommend more.

Check out all three links above and let me know if you’ve ever dated anyone who was GOOD at nonviolent communication and conflict resolution and how DIFFERENT it is to be with someone who possesses this skill set.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

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  1. 1
    Karl R

    Before marrying my wife, I was a bit concerned about this.   After dating for three years, we still hadn’t had any fights, so I wasn’t sure whether or not we fought “well”.

    Five years later, we still haven’t had a serious fight.   I’m a bit less concerned about it, because we seem to handle minor arguments well.


    I’m attracted to my wife.   I love my wife.   But I’m not sure that I would have married her if we weren’t able to get along … day, after day, after day.

  2. 2
    Lana Otoya

    Hi Evan, excellent post as usual. It’s true that people who are interested in relationship dynamics ie. dating coaches, therapists etc. would see that Time post as equivalent to “water is wet” but most people just don’t focus on how important it is to have effective communication with your partner.

    I find that even fewer people don’t realize that learning how to communicate and solve problems in a healthy way is actually a  learned skill  that not everyone is born with. Sure, some people are naturally more calm and good with words but most of us need a little help and guidance as to what healthy communication really looks like and how to do it.

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