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  • Writer's pictureJessicah Walker Herche, PhD, HSPP

Is It Normal For Couples To Fight?

Yes, “fighting” with your partner is normal. In fact, having zero conflict in your relationship is not a good indicator of relationship health. Rather, how you fight is a much better barometer of your relationship hardiness. Because everyone’s definition of fighting is different, let’s get clear on what healthy fighting is and is not. Simply put, normal and healthy fighting is working through disagreements and conflict in a connection-promoting manner.  

Very few of us are taught, let alone have ever witnessed, how to manage conflict in a way that fosters connection. So, no judgment. We are handed relationship templates in our childhood and very few of us are aware of how entrenched these patterns of relating are as we enter into romantic relationships. Thus, learning how to fight fairly with our partner is work that many must engage in to move toward having the relationship with their partner that they long to have. 

Fair Fighting Rules

When we mention “fair fighting” rules to clients, we are often met with incredulity. And that’s okay. If you too feel like these two words are an oxymoron, you are not alone. Let’s dive into what NOT to do or say when navigating conflict with your partner. Because the truth is this: We cannot navigate conflict in a connection-promoting way if we are engaging in any of these behaviors. We want to feel closer to our partner – which is often why we fight to begin with – and thus we cannot use strategies and techniques that foster disconnection.

10 Things To NOT Do When Fighting With Your Partner

  1. No scaring, hurting, or intimidating. No yelling. 

  2. No insults. No degrading language; discuss the issue, not the person.

  3. No property destruction. No throwing objects.

  4. No threats.

  5. Must not be intoxicated; must be sober.

  6. Be honest, but not cruel.

  7. No put-downs, swearing, or name-calling. 

  8. No refusing to talk (this is different from taking a break when one needs to calm)

  9. Don’t get off topic; discuss one topic at a time.

  10. Do not interrupt; take turns listening and sharing.

As you read through this list of things NOT to do during conflict, notice which ones make you uncomfortable or which ones you know you need to work on. Notice how your mind wants to jump to focusing on the ones that your partner does. It’s important to note you both likely have work to do, and for the moment, try to keep the focus on your part in the negative dynamic as you look over this list. 

Bring your attention to a recent fight with your partner, and notice how you were feeling right before you began using these not-so-good tactics. Were you feeling powerless, hurt, disconnected? Did you have a pit in your stomach? Was your chest tight? It’s human nature to want to bypass these feelings and sensations. We often are not confident that we have the ability to feel these things without imploding or exploding. And, our reactions (any of the 10 listed above) to these feelings and sensations are a way to avoid what we are really feeling. And avoidance of what we really feel is very infrequently the path to healing, connection, productivity, and peace. 

So Instead Of Feeling, We React.

And we get caught up in the downward spiral of conflict, which leads to more powerlessness, hurt, and disconnection. 

If this resonates with you, we recommend working with a skilled couples therapist who can help you learn to tolerate distress better and create more awareness around what activates you and why, in addition to discovering how to deconstruct the negative cycle you and partner find yourself in and shift into a more connection-promoting pattern of relating and fighting. 

Seeking Professional Help: If you need support to learn how to fight fairly with your partner, working with a skilled couples therapist can help you learn and practice the tools needed to feel more connected to your partner. To find out more about couples therapy, please call or text 317-747-0574 or visit our contact page

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional psychological care, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 


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