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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
Resolving issues from your past that block your future

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Rules For Fighting

March 2005


The other day, I was standing in line and I heard a couple arguing. She was mad at him because she had left and he hadn’t noticed. He was angry that she had left without telling him. As they continued to argue, the argument descended into name calling and bringing up incidences from the past.


There is nothing wrong with having a healthy disagreement. This was not a healthy disagreement. This was a nasty fight. It was nasty because they did not fight fair. They were not respectful. Their goal was to be hurtful. Their goal was to win at any cost, including humiliating their partner.


If you follow some simple rules, you can have a healthy fight. First, no name-calling. Never. It does not help and causes severe damage. Do not do it. Second, stick to the topic being discussed. Do not bring up the time twelve years ago when your partner did something that you did not like. Your partner probably doesn’t even remember what you are talking about so is not able to discuss it. Resolve the issue in front of you, nothing else. You are just pulling out ammunition so that you can decimate your partner.


Another rule is to remember whom you are talking to: this is your partner, the person that you love, the person that you want to share your life with. This is not the enemy. Be respectful. You want to build up, not destroy. If you are about to say something hurtful, take a break and finish later.


The goal of an argument should be to improve the relationship, not destroy it. If you follow these rules, you might find that you are growing even closer to each other!


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