The Art of Fighting Fairly: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Arguments

Meeting a couple who’s never gotten in an argument is akin to meeting a unicorn – in other words, they don’t exist.  All couples argue, whether you’ve been together for a couple of months or decades. Arguing is bound to happen in relationships because we’re all individuals and sometimes, our choices, opinions, and feelings doesn’t always mesh with our significant other’s.  But there’s an art to arguing as a couple that can ensure you that your arguments don’t turn into an all out fight that causes irreparable damage to your relationship.  In fact, if you do things right, you can both learn and resolve some of your arguments and learn how to avoid unnecessary ones in the future.

  1. Deal with the matter at hand. No matter what you’re arguing about, STICK TO IT. Don’t let an argument about who hasn’t washed the dishes snowball into an argument about how he catered to his ex girlfriend better than you.  Don’t bring up old arguments or situations just to prove your point.  It’s counterproductive in that it doesn’t help resolve whatever it is you’re disagreeing about.  It adds unnecessary vitriol to the argument that can evolve into something more than what started the argument in the first place. Stay in the now and leave your old resentments and unresolved issues out of it.
  2. Stop the insults. When you’re trying to make the other person understand where you’re coming from and they’re not just hearing it, frustration sets in.  You get so desperate for him to hear you out that all you can think to do is hurt his feelings by hurling an insult so he can feel as bad as you do.  But as you probably already know, throwing out these insults is hardly ever satisfying and could do serious damage to the bond that you have with each other.  So keep it clean and don’t say anything you’re going to regret later.
  3. Really LISTEN. What differentiates an argument from a fight is a couple’s ability to listen to one another.  In the heat of the moment, it’s tough to keep your mouth shut and listen to what he has to say, but it’s imperative that you both learn how to do it.  Don’t just wait to jump in with your point of view, really listen to what he’s saying – no matter how emotionally laden and irrational it might sound to you, let him have his say and he’ll probably give you the same courtesy.  And since you’re not trying to talk over each other, it also keeps fights from turning into ugly screaming matches.
  4. Keep an open mind. Having an open mind can help you navigate your way out of an argument and come out of the other end having learned from it.  If you’re significant other is making legitimately good points, try not to see it as him ‘winning’ the argument, because it’ll immediately put you on the defense and you’ll try and undermine what he’s saying just so you can be right.
  5. Let him walk away. Some arguments get so heated and emotional that it can be overwhelming to both parties and sometimes, your significant other might need to bow out from the disagreement and walk away. LET HIM. Nothing good can come from needling and following them when they’ve asked to be left alone. It shows you don’t respect his wishes and could spiral into another argument.  Give him the space he deserves and maybe take a breather yourself.
  6. Don’t compare to previous relationships. A sure-fire way to guarantee a complete shut down of communication from your partner is to bring up past relationships with statements like, “Well, maybe you should just go back to so and so” or “I was better off with…”  It’s uncalled for, immature and can only do damage to your significant other’s self-esteem and build a resentment for you.  Past relationships are in the past and should be kept as far away from your current relationship as much as possible.
  7. Don’t try to manipulate the situation. Another useless tactic to get the person to succumb to your wishes is to make empty threats to either leave the relationship, withhold sex from them, etc. At times, it can temporarily end an argument if your partner gives in, but it doesn’t resolve the actual argument, which means you’re probably going to argue about the same exact thing again at another time.  And each time the same argument comes back, it now comes with a heaping dose of resentment and residual anger from the last unresolved fight. At the very worst, he could call you on your bluff with the same end result of anger and resentment when he clearly sees you’re trying to manipulate him.  It’s a horrible cycle that could end your relationship, so just don’t do it.
  8. Be straightforward.  A lot of people out there don’t like to argue and avoid it like the plague because arguing isn’t exactly fun.  But deliberately avoiding an argument by saying you’re fine when you’re really not fine and not expressing your opinions and feelings will only backfire on you in the long run.  When you keep things that bother you from your partner, you’re emotionally distancing yourself from him. Bad feelings start to build up on your end because deep down you want him to know how you feel and resent him for not being able to read your mind.  Inevitably, a small disagreement becomes a big blow-up of your unresolved issues that can totally blindside your significant other.
  9. Know when to stop. We’ve all gotten into those arguments that seem to circle around and around with no end in sight.  If you see that you’re having to state the same points over and over again and he’s still unable to see it from your point of view, that’s probably the time you should just agree to disagree.  It doesn’t work with every argument, but there are just some things that can’t be resolved at that very moment and could be one of those things you need to have several arguments about to finally squash.  It could also be a topic of discussion you both learn not to talk about in the future because it’s just not worth fighting about.
  10. Be an adult about it. It’s easy to get so caught up in your emotions that you forget about everything else, but don’t.  Remember you’re both adults, not middle schoolers getting into an after school fight. First, be aware of where you are. If you’re in a public place, don’t ruin other people’s day because you’re having a spat.  Do it in the privacy of your own home. If you have kids, remembering that you’re the adult and arguing accordingly is imperative.  While it’s unreasonable to think that your kids won’t ever witness the two of you fighting, being a witness to your constant arguing can permanently damage a child’s personal well-being and give them unnecessary anxiety that could lead to bad behavior/habits in the future.  If you feel like a discussion with your significant other is starting to get heated, try to put a stop to it and discuss it later when there are no kids within earshot.
Elaine is a freelance writer who has written for Playboy and used to blog nonstop before she got a Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram and lost all focus. She loves mangoritas, talking in the third person and when you share her articles with your friends. Follow her on Twitter @Ladyhaha, or go to and read more of her ridiculousness.