How to fight better for a healthy relationship

Only joking – we talk.

Fighting well is a skill. After all, even the most loving partner can be a trial to cope with from time to time. I know I am, and the longer Markus is exposed to the full range of my inadequacies, I grow more grateful everyday for his patience and diplomatic skills.

But fights are not so bad, no? When we do so in a fair and mutually supportive manner, even the worst can be a surprising source of deeper connection and a wellspring of growth for a healthy, more loving relationship. Below we share the concepts behind our conflict resolution and how we learned to fight better as a couple.

1. Attack the problem, not the person.

Your partner is not the enemy, in fact he (or she ) is the love of your life! Sure, he is late – again – but how did it happen? Is there a problem at work? Have you communicated how it makes you feel? Is there a way to solve this tardiness issue?

Frankly, an entire galaxy of problems can be solved with less drama if, instead of attacking the person, we shift our focus on the problem. It becomes more manageable when we address it as a team. In fact, this togetherness is essential to a healthy relationship.

2. Consider alternative interpretations of what offended you.

Do you honestly think that this person who has always made you tea on your hangover mornings and has given you the last slice of pizza every time will deliberately choose to upset or hurt you? The same guy who takes care of you when you are sick and does the dishes when you are tired? There has got to be an alternative reason behind whatever it is that irritates you. Ask, clarify, and talk before you marry your assumptions.

3. Out with it.

My youngest sister commented the other day that a Korean drama would save 30 episodes if half the characters were not lying pricks. Well, she is not wrong. Most of our problems, if not all of it, will be solved faster if we are truthful. But why are we not?

Guy on the right: “Just smile and wait”

Because the truth is often painful and inconvenient. Unfortunately, being honest does not shield us and the people around us from from suffering. People will get hurt when it is time for them to get hurt, ourselves included.

But by being truthful and dealing with what is wrong, we give ourselves the chance to get over it and build a healthy relationship. Out with it is a far better strategy than letting a small wound fester and grow into a giant necrotic mess that will take nine lives to handle.

4. Let your guard down.

We resort to shouting, complaining, withdrawing, blaming, and controlling, when what we really need to do is accept and communicate that we are worried, insecure, and afraid of rejection or abandonment. It is fascinating how “I hate you” rolls off the tongue smoother than “I really need you right now”.

The next time you feel the need to fight, try to let your guard down with unfrightened honesty and reveal your fear that triggers the outburst. Do not be surprised if it turns out to be the best ‘fight’ of your life.

5. Charge it to charity.

Trust, honesty, and a complete sense of self are essential to a good fight.

At least sometimes. So a mountain of laundry magically appears bedside from time to time. Does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? Is it truly a reason to love your partner less?

Also, remember that the love of your life has parts of his being that remains immature. While he fixes broken appliances, files your taxes, and throws the trash out every night, it is pretty much possible that he is still unable to place his socks on the laundry hamper. Accepting this fact is key to a healthy relationship, and preserving your sanity.

It is incredibly easy to be angry. What is hard is to admit why we are angry. Often, we use aggressiveness, passive- aggressiveness included, to mask our vulnerability.

We cannot expect our partner to be perfect, all the time, in every single aspect, in the same way that we are not, too. Being patient and more charitable certainly goes a long way. If we can laugh about it, at least sometimes, even better.

Finally, it is important to point out that talking about our problems, in varying decibels that suit the occasion, is preferable than constant bickering or grinding our teeth. Keeping it in, being passive-aggresive, or choosing to drag the matter is not the most loving thing to do. It will only make the situation worse. Just fight it off fairly and find peace.

How do you fight with your partner and maintain a healthy relationship? Please share your experiences with us, especially if you have been together for a long time. We would love to learn from you.

71 thoughts on “How to fight better for a healthy relationship

  1. I really love this a lot! Do you mind if I repost/share this on my blog? (With proper credit of course!)

    I try my best to be understanding about my boyfriend’s feelings and shortcomings. We’ve fought a lot in our relationship, but we always try to make up by the end of it. We never want to leave on a bad note. I think these things have really helped out relationship be so strong through all the hardships we’ve faced. It’s really important to not only think of yourself, but try to see things through your significant other’s point of view.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course, thank you. Glad it helped. Yes, it is not really about the fighting but how we approach, communicate, and resolve it. And you are right – I think people who have shouting matches and talk it through will have a better relationship than those who just ignore or avoid issues silently. Good to know you and your boyfriend face the hardships and do not leave on a bad note. It is a sign of healthy relationship. How long have you been together?

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      1. We’re coming up on 18 months on the 16th :)) That may not sound like a lot, but it’s a lot longer than everyone expected us to last, and I’m really glad to prove them wrong.

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          1. Ah, well there’s a lot of reasons, partially because we’re an interracial couple in a place where that’s not very common and can be frowned upon, but a lot of it came from his side and his “friends” because he wasn’t exactly known to be a great person, whereas I was new and just known as the quiet innocent kid. A lot of complicated stuff, but basically with his track record and the differences in our cultures, plus getting together in high school where relationships rarely last long, and now with him having left for the army, people never thought we’d make it. But he’s actually a much different guy than they knew him to be, and he’s been very good to me. We started our relationship on the basis of not dating casually like other highschoolers, but actually to see if we could work as a real couple and try to fight through our hardships rather than giving up.

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            1. Oh, thank you for sharing. This is so nice. It seems like you both gave each other a chance despite what everyone said! So much growth happening to you two. I am happy for you. Where are you and why are interracial relationships not common? Asking because we are, too. But it is quite common in Germany and The Philippines.

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              1. We live in the South, Eastern United States. It can still be a quite racist place sometimes, so not everyone (especially including his parents) was very happy about the black guy and the white girl dating. Like I said, a lot of the problems have been on his side and with his family. A lot of accusations about him “betraying his race.” It’s a very touchy subject, but his parents have been more accepting of our relationship lately, especially since he’s moved out of the house. I guess they just conceded that now he’s an adult and can make his own decisions.

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  2. Beautiful post ❤ and as someone who is in a 16-yr relationship i could not agree more with your points. Especially #1 -Attack the problem, not the person. I think this is so important, as well as maintaining honesty and trust–which is tricky because you will need to communicate to build it, but you can only do so if you already trust your partner. Relationships are hard work, but it’s always worth it ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, 16 years is a long time. How did you know your husband was the one? And agree with your point, open communication will not happen if we do not, at the very least, trust the other person to listen to us. I suppose for a relationship to work we must work on it every day. Problems start to appear when we stop, no?

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      1. Exactly. It takes continuous effort. How did I know he was the one? It’s funny because we had a major fight, something that really tested our 10-yr relationship at the time. The result of that event made us into individuals that are mature enough to consider marriage, I guess 😆

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        1. 10 years dating? Wow! And I like your story. The fight really did lead to considering marriage? How cool. Markus’ father said, if we survived yoga teacher training together, we have nothing to worry about in the future. It was so funny.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Because no one is perfect i think patience and forgiveness will always be required in a marriage relationship.Honesty and trust are also needed in a relationship,,they become the foundation for everything in a successful marriage.

            Relationships don’t work without time investment as well . Never have, never will. Any successful relationship requires intentional, quality time together. 💫

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            1. Wise words. Realizing that we are not perfect is a big part of it. This is the door where understanding, patience, and forgiveness enter. And you are so right about quality time. In fact, it is an important expression of our devotion to each other. Have you taken the love language quiz by any chance?

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Absolutely beautiful post, Micah. Your points are right on target, full of insight and wisdom that we’d all do well to remember when we’re tempted to do the very opposite.

    In a marriage or close relationships, forgiveness is key. We may not be able to remember in ‘the moment’ that neither of us are perfect. The beauty is in being able to humble ourselves, say we’re truly sorry, and grow. I love the word ‘repent’ because it not only means to be sorry for what we did or said. It means to “change our minds, turn around and change course.” When we look back with our less emotional selves, we realize that it’s not all that bad!

    I love # 4. I understand triggers well. A life of pain, trauma, abuse and rejection left me with quite a few battle scars. Trust doesn’t come naturally as a result. What you said is true. Being able to say, “Hey, this is what I’m feeling…” is a beautiful way of handling conflict. When we don’t cause the other to go on the defensive automatically – we might actually get the opportunity to see them share their heart as well.

    Thanks for sharing this. You’re helping a lot of relationships find common ground they can agree on! Blessings to each of you! 💕

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Holly. Really appreciate this. Forgiveness is an important addition to the list, and repentance is so mature, I like that a lot. With triggers, you are right. We all carry something. I read that it makes a big difference when we are able to communicate our enduring vulnerabilities with our partner. We are fortunate that we have explored this early in our relationship, actually even before we were together, and are still mindful of it now. It is fascinating how stuff from many decades ago can be the center of our lives today and we are not even aware of it! At least not instantly.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for this thoughtful reply! I agree, it is amazing how something that happened long ago can be triggered from an event today. Triggers, when handled correctly, are actually a positive thing. They let us know where we still need healing. When employing them in this way, we can move forward instead of slip backwards. 😊 Not always easy, but worth the journey!

        God bless you in your marriage. I pray each day only brings the two of you closer and more full of joy! 🙏🏻

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        1. Agree, triggers highlight our areas for growth, but only when we take them positively and are humble about them instead of defensive. At worst, if we are unaware, there is the danger of being trapped in this cycle of pain. As you said, not easy. Takes constant work! Many thanks for your well-wishes. We are also happy when another day goes by and we have not murdered each other. Haha! How long have you been married?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. 🤣 I chuckled when you said, “We are also happy when another day goes by and we have not murdered each other.” Cute! I know you’re only kidding, but also understand fully where you’re coming from.

            My husband and I have been together for 14 years, married for 2 1/2. I come from a long personal history of domestic violence, abuse in many forms, and some pretty traumatic relationships, starting in childhood. My self-worth became pretty much non-existent. (Still working on that!) As a result, I lost my faith/trust in love and people. Love = pain in my learning history. My husband just kept trying to ‘reach’ me. He would leave home cooked food on my doorstep, and just waited patiently until I was ready to even consider ‘opening the door’ to a relationship with him, so to speak. And wait he did, ha ha!

            Marriage, when lived correctly, walks us back through our painful pasts in a safe way. We can then learn to replace what was with what is. If what is, is healthy, we can then journey forward to wholeness. 🙂 Hope that makes sense! Marriage was meant to be ‘naked,’ emotionally and physically. We see the best and we see the worst. The key is to help each other grow in maturity, love, and faith. ❤

            Sending my very best love to you and Markus. I believe in you two. You’ll keep growing, keep connecting, and be better every single day … even on the tough ones!

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            1. Wow, thank you so much for the wisdom that you shared. Cannot wish you and your husband enough happiness. You worked very hard for it! He sounds like a wonderful man, patient and caring.
              Sorry to hear about the trauma, it must be harder to open up as the history of pain lengthens. I have my share of traumas, and it is fascinating to me, how people like us immediately build walls to protect ourselves, but secretly wish someone would care enough and be patient enough to dismantle it. I suppose it is a high anxiety, high avoidance kind of love style. Markus and I also worked through it. We were both like that.
              I love how you mentioned wholeness, too. It is so important to go at it individually, and not expect another person to complete us. Markus and I were on our individual journeys to being whole when we met. This is also the reason why we continued our separate ways even if we obviously had a connection. It was more important to work on ourselves, before being with another person.
              It was one big question when we were talking about becoming together – Will this relationship add value? Will it not be a crutch? Are we ready? Being clear about these things definitely helped us come together in the right way. Thank you very much for sharing with us. Really appreciate it. Hugs to you and your husband, Holly.

              Liked by 1 person

  4. Lots of good advice here. And learning how to handle conflict never really ends even after 40 years of marriage. I got triggered last night and didn’t remember any of my own advice. I wish I could have said, “I am really triggered right now. Can we continue this discussion when I’ve calmed down and figured out what is upsetting me?” Instead the angry part just vented. Later apologized, told him what was upsetting. Now just want to remember this for next time!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are right, Kathy. It never ends. I need to remember this, too! Thank you for sharing. I am glad things are okay now. I suppose it is normal that our emotions get the best of us sometimes, maybe even most times for me. Haha! Oh, that is an important point you raised – when you figured out what is upsetting you. It also happens to me. I need time to figure out what is wrong and even more time to articulate! I am grateful Markus is a patient man. Is your husband more patient and analytical and you are more emotional at times?

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  5. I like your point of view here and especially like point #5. Such a positive affirming statement. Not everything is worth making a big deal out of. Would that I had known that earlier in my life…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is something I constantly remind myself, too. When I am stressed, I can really make a fuss – why is the towel there or there is water on the floor. I am curious, can you share a little story about your early life related to fighting?

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      1. I don’t know that I have a specific answer to that question. I was more judgmental when I was younger so everything that didn’t fit my life view was worthy of a snarl which often made for arguments. Now, I let almost all of it wash over me, not worrying about what other people do, focusing more on me doing better.

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  6. Totally accurate. I truly enjoyed this post…

    I remember Ne-Yo’s song ‘Mad’

    She’s starin’ at me,
    I’m sittin’, wonderin’ what she’s thinkin’.
    Nobody’s talkin’,
    ‘Cause talkin’ just turned into screamin’.
    And now is I’m yellin’ over her,
    She’s yellin’ over me.
    All that that means
    Is neither of us is listening,
    (And what’s even worse)
    That we don’t even remember why were fighting.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Pre-marriage, we were together for 4 years and it was like daily bickerings and verbal assault… He gets mad easily and I was impatient and intolerant.

        Thankfully, during our marriage, we’ve developed a sense of compromise. We don’t engage. Sabi nga, “walang nag-aaway mag-isa”

        We basically fight about deadlines that I want to achieve (major ones only) and he’s the most laid back person on earth. He doesn’t like it when I follow up. He would get mad instantly.

        The only thing that triggers me is the incessant talking @ home. Because I want a quiet home. I tend to just sit and read or watch tv. I hate it when there’s too much talking (and he’s the type of person who does long monologues and u cannot interject (else he’d go ballistic), so there, we clash a lot…

        But thank goodness, we have learned not to engage. In our 10 years of marriage, we have major (MAJOR) fights once a year.

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        1. Once a year is not bad, no? You can also prepare well for it. Haha! I appreciate how you have developed a way of dealing with each other and having awareness of triggers. Who is more patient?

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  7. We have been married fifty years. I learned a long time ago, sometimes it’s better to just drop the issue. Not everything has to be hashed out. Whichever one of us cares, or knows most the most on an issue usually takes precedence. I don’t care about the car or yard work, so he decides on that. The house is my business. That works for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 50 years, wow! I like your approach, very much like division of labor, no? Was there ever a time you felt you were at the end of your rope and what made you decide to stay another day?

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  8. This is a lovely post, Micah. You have given good advice, even for someone like me who will have been married for 20 years in Feb 2021. I can’t fight with my husband, I would get more response from kicking the wall. He is very calm and collected. Me! I am the emotional one, given to ranting and tantrums. I am a creative and he is not but it still works.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Learning to fight, instead of flight, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in life! I came from a family that literally NEVER fought and I still find it extremely difficult to confront issues instead of shutting down and walking away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But you did learn it! Can you share a little about the first time you had to fight? It must be hard to be in such an avoidant environment growing up. I am curious how your family dealt with misunderstandings.

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      1. My family “dealt” with misunderstandings by pretending they weren’t there or ostracizing the person involved. My dad’s mother left when he was very young. He never tried to find her. My mother’s dad did *something* (she wouldn’t talk about it) and she stopped speaking to him when she was 18. I never met him. My aunt interpreted a therapist’s comments as her mother being the source of all her, and my mother’s, issues in life… even though they were in their 40s at the time. My mother stopped speaking to her mother, who I loved, and I said, “One day I’ll do to you what you did to Grandma and you’ll see how it feels!” Didn’t know that would be prophecy… when I was 26 we had a STUPID falling out and have never spoken again… 30+ years!!

        The person who caused me to TRY to fight was the ‘Significant Other’ of my life. I loved him deeply, as he did me. I don’t recall what got him mad and not speaking to me. It took a couple days for me to suck up my courage and go to his house. I followed his queues and acted like nothing ever happened. That night, he was ready to talk things through and we talked for hours. Not forcing the convo was key with him. I repeated that several times during our 2yrs together till I was the one who was mad. He couldn’t return the action and each time I was about to make the first move again, he’d do something to make it worse (like returning every item I’d ever given him while I was at work). He died without us making amends and it was many years later before I realized the add’l a-hole stuff was probably meant to make me mad enough to call, starting a convo.

        A few more attempts to relove issues with others has made me feel I have poor taste in “friends” (cause they all refused to discuss and I ended up breaking ties. I don’t really make friends anymore. But I learned to discuss issues at work… most of the time.

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        1. Oh wow, thank you for sharing. Families are hard. I can imagine the trauma gets passed around when it is not solved. Quite unfortunate. I love the story when you learned to fight. It seems that good lovers do change us for the better, even in their odd ways sometimes. Sorry to hear that he is gone. And yes, I agree that not forcing it is key, not just in resolving fights but with everything. I believe in go with the flow. With friends, I think you are right in severing ties. I mean, how can you be friends if you cannot even talk to each other honestly? I hope you stumble upon good people at some point. What do you think of online friends then?

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          1. I enjoy online and “15 minute” friends (cashiers and other people I never really know in depth)!!

            ps: I’ll always talk about anything so please feel free to ask!!

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  10. Great post, Mikah. Each point you raise is spot on. I know from experience they are not always possible to apply for one reason or another, but the secret is never to give up and to revisit and work it out as best you can. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but by remaining open to each other, it does become easier to let one’s guard down and share those moments of fear. And leaving it to charity is so very important too.

    We have been married for 33 years – never stop talking to one another, share moments of triumph or loss, enjoy things together when you can, be understanding and remain playful 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you so much for your insight. Yes, in an ideal world, my points will work out, but because we are all too human, we make do with what we can afford most times. I will take your advice to heart and keep working on the relationship. I laughed when you said practice does not make perfect! The tips you shared are so important, especially the playfulness part. We are lucky, the openness comes natural to us, but we will see how it goes after 33 years! Thank you very much for your thoughts, much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is such a great post with such useful tips. Honestly needed to read this right now!

    My only tip is to never sleep on a fight. Resolve it before you go to bed. Otherwise the negativity of one day just spills over onto the next day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. Are you in the middle of negotiating a conflict? We hope the tips helped. And yes, that is a good addition. Personally, we prefer talking about things before bed. However, we also realize that timing is different for people. Some may need to clear their heads and cool off a bit, while others are quick to discuss it. Both works depending on the situation. What do you think?

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  12. Great topic for a post. Thanks for sharing. Best book on communication I’ve read was ‘crucial conversations’. Though ‘being wrong’ had many practical takeaways as well- many you just touched on.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh thank you for the recommendation. Yes, isn’t it that more often it is not about who is right or wrong but how to address the situation and move forward? It is a good way to not create a good guy or bad guy. What is your fighting style?

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