How to Fight Fair in Marriage

Updated 05/14/19
Andrea Morini/Photodisc/Getty Images

Whether they admit it or not, all married couples fight. Knowing how to fight fair in marriage is the key to whether or not you will have a successful, long-term marriage. Fighting fairly with respect for each other is a critical marital skill you must learn if you want your love to last. The way you fight often tells psychologists more than what you fight about. If done correctly, conflict and healthy, fair fighting can strengthen your marriage. 

Tools You Need to Fight Fair in Marriage

While the concept of fighting fair in marriage is one we could all get behind, putting the idea into practice takes the desire to put your marriage first, along with a sense of fairness. While you might think you are definitely in the right, having the ability to listen and the respect for your spouse is important. Being willing to forgive and aware of when to apologize are key components of fighting fair. 

Things to Avoid When Fighting with Your Spouse

Even though it may be hard to forgive your spouse, refusing to forgive can cause more harm both emotionally and physically to yourself and to your marriage. Holding a grudge is like letting someone else live in your head rent-free.

The funny thing is, conflict with your spouse is not the problem—all married couples have disagreements. It's not knowing how to argue effectively that creates difficulty in marriage. Using words like "never" and "always" in statements to one another, and using threatening tones, like yelling or screaming are easy patterns to fall into that are detrimental to your marriage.

Fighting fair with your spouse is not to fight to win, but to fight for your relationship. Be willing to compromise. After 15 minutes if you haven't reached an agreement, call a truce and set a time to discuss the issue again, when emotions are less elevated.

15 Tips for How to Fight Fair in Marriage

  1. Don't let little things that bother you build up until you explode. 
  2. If you are angry about something, and don't try to talk about it with your spouse within 48 hours, let it go. 
  3. If your spouse doesn't want to discuss the matter, set an appointment within the next 24 hours to have a fair fight. It is OK to go to bed angry—you need your sleep. Just make sure that the issue is addressed the next day.
  4. Fighting fair means both parties know what the issue is—and stick to the subject.
  5. Keep your fight between the two of you. Don't bring in third-parties like your mother-in-law, his best friend, or your children.
  6. Fighting fair means you maintain respect for each other and don't hit below the belt. 
  7. Fighting fair means you don't bring up your history.
  8. Fighting fair means no name calling. Even endearing terms and pet names can be hurtful when you are using a sarcastic tone.
  9. Be careful how you use humor—laughter is good, but teasing can be misinterpreted and can be hurtful.
  10. Listen and maintain eye contact with one another fully while you fight. 
  11. Don't interrupt your souse during a fight.
  12. Don't blame one another or make accusations.
  13. Try to use "I" sentences instead of "you" sentences.
  14. If the two of you are not extremely angry, try to hold hands while talking during your fight.
  15. Be open to asking for forgiveness and be willing to forgive.

Related Stories