Fighting Fair:

Take a moment to recall a recent conflict between you and your partner.  Perhaps it was just a small misunderstanding, or maybe something major.  What were the circumstances of the problem?  Replay the event in your mind.  How was the issue resolved?  Have the two of you reconciled?  How did you feel once the two of you had reconciled?

Someone once said that if you want to avoid marital conflict you will have to forego all intimacy.  Not for us, thanks!  Conflict is a part of every close relationship.  The more intimate we are, the more vulnerable to hurt we become.  As the two of you grow closer in love, you also become more aware of your differences in such things as assumptions and expectations of each other, abilities to listen, family backgrounds, communication patterns, habits, etc.  Sometimes, the very things that attracted the two of you to each other in the beginning become the characteristics that grate and cause conflict later on.

To presume that you will never argue is too idealistic and simply not true.  Yet working through a “good” conflict can be healthy for your marriage because it usually brings issues to the surface and clears the air between you.  Remember, the flip side of conflict is intimacy.  There are positive ways to handle conflict and “fight fair.”  The “Dos & DON’Ts” that follow can help you avoid the destructive and disheartening potential of marital conflict.


  1. Give each other equal opportunity to speak.
  2. Stick to the issues at hand.
  3. Complete the argument. Come to some resolution, even if means setting a later time to do so.
  4. Seek first to understand the other, then to be understood.
  5. Admit when you are wrong. Graciously accept the others admission of guilt or wrong-doing.
  6. Make up and mean it.
  7. Call forth the core love you have in your heart for each other.  Remember the vow you made to make your marriage work.


  1. Dominate the argument.
  2. Dredge up past hurts or problems, whether real or perceived.
  3. Postpone a resolution indefinitely.
  4. Sling mud and arrows. Avoid put-downs, yelling and name calling.  Terms such as “stupid jerk,” “fat slob,” “drunken bum,” or “airhead” only incite more anger and hurt.
  5. Use physical violence… ever!
  6. Use sex as a source of power or manipulation. Never threaten to withdraw love or sex.
  7. Use the “silent treatment.”
  8. Always give in. your resentment will build because the conflict hasn’t really been resolved.
  9. Make a scene. Never deliberately embarrass each other in front of others.  Most conflicts need private space and time to be resolved.

Fighting Without Fighting:

While an argument may have its benefits in the long run, it’s not exactly a pleasant experience—and it’s certainly not what you are getting married to do.  First of all, some things are just not worth argument about.  Remember, it’s “for better or worse.”  You also need to learn now—before the wedding—the difference between the “negotiables” and the “non-negotiables” for both you… and your partner.

Still, there will be plenty of serious issues in the years ahead that will produce conflict.  You both must stand up for what you believe and express your expectations.  But you must also be willing to grow and change.  Most conflicts signal a need to readjust expectations of each other.  Here are some suggestions for healthy, non-combative conflict resolution.

Tips and Skills for Resolving Conflict:

  1. Face the problem squarely. The disagreement or difference of opinion will not go away just because you don’t talk about it.  In fact, it will only fester and grow.
  2. Actively try to understand your partner’s viewpoint. Listen intently to what he or she is saying, rather than building up ammunition for your comeback.
  3. Try the “two-question” method. As your partner shares his or her side, ask at least one question to clarify or enhance what was said.  Then, ask a second question about his or her response to your first question.
  4. Respond to the problem and/or your beloved in an honest yet caring way. Don’t allow the tone of your voice to communicate something different than your words.
  5. Speak for yourself. You are the world’s greatest expert on you.  Tell your beloved how you feel and allow him or her to the same.  It’s better to get all the feelings and emotions on the table, including the negative ones, rather than trying to guess what they are.
  6. Own your feelings. Your beloved is not the one responsible for your emotions, so you cannot expect him or her to “fix” how you are feeling.
  7. Take your share of initiative. Don’t always leave it up to your partner to raise sticky issues or propose solutions.  Accept responsibility for resolving conflict.
  8. Seek “win-win” solutions. Most conflicts can be solved through creative compromise and seeking alternative ways to meet both person’s needs.  If an argument ends with one winner and one loser, in the long run you both lose.
  9. Take immediate steps to implement your agreed-upon solution. There’s nothing worse than talking through a problem and then having nothing happen as a result.  Even small, positive steps toward solution will make both sides feel better.
  10. Set a definite time for review. Schedule a date and time when you can both see if the issue needs further discussion and compromise.  When the time arrives be sure to check with each other that the conflict has been resolved.

Finally Discuss:

  1. Where your perceptions about your behavior differ and why.
  2. How productive it is where you do agree on the nature of your behavior.
  3. Which behaviors you might want to change.

marital fighting