Relationships & Love
Go Ahead, Pick a Fight! It's Good for Your Relationship
“Couples don’t split up because they fight, they split up because they don’t know how to grow from conflict and use it as a catalyst to strengthen their relationship,” says Dr. Judith Wright. “In great relationships, fighting is not only healthy, it’s essential.”
“One of the most concerning things we hear from couples is when one partner says that they never fight, while the other partner has a laundry list of resentments and feelings that they’ve never brought to the table,” adds Dr. Bob Wright.
The Wrights’ new book is “The Heart of the Fight: A Couples Guide to 15 Common Fights, What They Really Mean & How They Can Bring You Closer” (Click here to order).
Here are their rules for fighting right:
RULE #1. Minimize the negative. Minimize the destructive, contemptuous fighting tactics like blaming, attacking, name-calling, sarcasm, and mocking. No fight is perfect, but low blows don’t get you anywhere.
RULE #2. Accentuate the positive. Use fighting tactics to move you forward. Be open, vulnerable, genuine, and truthful, and tell your partner why they truly matter to you.
RULE #3. Never take or give more than 50% of the blame. It takes two to tango! Maybe your partner started the argument, but you were the one who responded poorly. In any fight, the highest percentage of blame any one person can have is 50%. It may not be easy, but if you can stick to this rule, you’ll be amazed how much more productive your fight will be.
RULE #4. Take 100% responsibility for your own happiness. It’s your job to make yourself happy and yours alone. Don’t expect your partner to be a mind reader. If you want something specific in your relationship, ask for it. Be direct.
RULE #5. Express and agree with the truth, always. Any time your partner says something that is true, acknowledge it. In most fights a lot of true things get said, but we don’t admit it. Really practice saying, You’re right…Good point…Hadn’t thought of it that way… And if you were wrong, fess up. The truth goes a long way.
RULE #6. Fight FOR, not against. Most of us fight against something we don’t want vs. fighting for what we do want. What are you fighting for? Do you want to be heard, affirmed, or to matter? Do you want to be closer? Get a certain result? Go for it directly. And watch the complaining, that’s never fighting for something.
RULE #7. Assume goodwill. Always assume the other person has good will, rather than ill will for you. Sure, you may sometimes want to hurt your partner or they want to hurt you in the heat of the battle. By assuming they have positive intentions, rather than assuming they have it out for you, your fight will more likely get resolved.
ABOUT JUDITH: A longtime media favorite, Dr. Judith Wright has been called the “World’s Ultimate Expert” by Woman’s World Magazine, has appeared on Good Morning America, NBC’s Today Show, in Marie Claire, Fitness Magazine, Health, Shape and she holds a BA in psychology, an MA in education and counseling, and a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Change.
ABOUT BOB: Marriage and Relationship Counselor Dr. Bob Wright, Ed.D., M.S.W., holds an MA in communications, an MSW in clinical social work, and a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Change. He’s been interviewed by Fox News, NBC News, WGN, Women’s Health Magazine and more.