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Why Fighting in a Relationship Is Important & How to Do It Right

Just because you have disagreements with your partner doesn’t mean you can’t be happy. So, here’s why fighting in a relationship is important.

Why Fighting in a Relationship Is Important

You might think fighting is the worst thing you can do as a couple. It is not fun. It never is. In fact, it can be stressful and draining. Learning why fighting in a relationship is important feels counterintuitive, but no good relationship survives without disagreements.

You might avoid getting into fights at all costs, especially the big ones. It is scary to put something risky out there and not know what the outcome will be.

But in reality, that’s exactly what is essential to a successful and happy relationship.

No matter how similar or different a couple may be from one another, they’ll never agree on everything. How they deal with those disagreements and any issues that arise is what determines the future of their relationship. [Read: What does a healthy relationship actually look like?]

Why we avoid fighting in a relationship

Most of us were raised to avoid confrontation. We don’t like things that are messy. We don’t want to start a screaming match. Whether you had a bad fight before and it deterred you from bringing up a sensitive topic again or you just avoid disagreements all together, it makes sense.

Avoiding fighting in a relationship is a form of self-preservation. We don’t want to hurt our partners or get hurt by them. Disagreement could potentially lead to a breakup.

We tell ourselves we can overlook the things that may be bothering us because it isn’t that bad. We are happy enough. If we bring up something small, it can seem like nitpicking. We often hold onto our issues in relationships because if we let them out they become more real.

We also want our relationship to seem perfect and fighting isn’t perfect. Fighting is messy and loud and frustrating. We think fighting in a relationship means something is wrong.

[Read: 25 things couples in happy relationships always talk about]

If we disagree about something, we believe it is a crack in our relationship that will only lead to more problems. If we poke at something in the relationship, it will make it worse rather than fixing it. Or at least that is how we assume it will be.

This isn’t the case though. Fighting is vital for the health of any relationship. Discuss things, especially the hard stuff, to work through it and become stronger as a couple rather than avoid potential fights.

Why fighting in a relationship is important – how it can make a relationship stronger

As scary as a fight with your partner might be, avoidance is much worse for your relationship. Not only does avoiding a fight or a topic that might start a fight build tension, it also grows resentment. It only pushes you further apart.

You may think avoiding conflict at any cost is a safe bet. Avoidance only causes an even larger strain than calmly bringing up an issue in the first place.

Most likely, a fight will lead to the root issue being resolved. It can’t happen if it’s never discussed. Avoiding a fight only puts off the inevitable until it implodes and causes more problems than it avoids. [Read: 9 relationship stages all couples have to go through]

Holding onto something that bothers you will build up resentment within you leading to unavoidable and worse fights.

When a fight is put off for too long or brought up without the right frame of mind, resentment and anger build unintentionally. It can cause you and your partner to lash out, making the argument much worse than it needs to be.

The reason fights are so scary is because they’re not done in a way to make both partners satisfied with the outcome. They’re usually selfish in nature. They focus on hostility rather than an equal understanding. [Read: 8 ways to avoid the awkward tension after an argument]

Unhealthy vs. healthy fighting styles

Everyone has their own style when it comes to fighting. We learn these styles when we are young, primarily from watching our parents during conflict. Some of these styles are positive and some are negative. Let’s see which one you have.

1. Competing

This is the worst type of conflict management you can possibly have. People with this style see fighting as a competition. They have a “win-lose” attitude, and they feel like they have to win at all costs. So, they see their partner as the “enemy.”

This is the wrong attitude to have. Instead, you should view yourself as a team. It should not be “me vs. you” but “us” as a unit. But when people compete, they resort to all sorts of unhealthy behaviors like name-calling, attacking, and yelling. None of this is healthy at all. [Read: Are relationship fights normal? 15 signs you’re fighting too often]

2. Avoiding

You might think that avoiding fighting is the best thing to do. But as you know, fighting is important in a relationship. But it depends on how you do it. So, if you are always avoiding conflict, then you aren’t dealing with your problems. Instead, you’re sticking your head in the sand and hope the issues will magically disappear.

But that never happens. Instead, the issues always pile up more and more until it just comes to the breaking point. Not fighting is not healthy. But the term “fighting” has a negative connotation. Calling it “managing conflict” is a much better way to think about it. When you do, you won’t try to avoid it so much.

3. Accommodating

When someone gives in to another person during a fight, that’s called accommodation. For example, you might be going back and forth arguing about something, and if one of you just says “Okay, fine. You win. You can have your way!” that is giving in. [Read: How to stop fighting in a relationship and 16 steps to really talk]

This isn’t healthy – especially if it’s always the same person giving in to the other. When that happens, the power dynamic is very unbalanced. It’s not fair for one person to have all the power and the other person always giving up their power. That’s not healthy.

4. Compromising

This is the second-best style to have. This style is just want it sounds like – each person gives up something in order to get something in return. The people understand that it’s not possible to always have everyone satisfied, so they meet each other half-way.

This is a pretty common style for the kind of people who are emotionally intelligent and want to have fairness for each person. It’s not ideal because neither person is fully satisfied, but at least they are both partially satisfied. [Read: Compromise in a relationship – 17 ways to give and not feel like you lost]

5. Collaborating

This is the best way to work through conflict. With this style, both people see themselves as a team. They work together the best they can to find a solution that is best for both of them. In other words, they genuinely want their partner to be happy just as they want that for themselves too.

This is difficult for most people to do. It requires empathy, patience, and the ability to get to the essence of what the problem really is. It also require self-reflection so you can explain your point of view your partner. Those skills are difficult for a lot of people.

How to fight better in a relationship

Knowing how to fight in a relationship can be what takes a relationship from good to great.

You’ve mastered the art of fighting when it doesn’t seem like a fight at all. When your fights stop feeling like they’re risking your relationship but brings you closer together, you’ll feel the difference.

So, rather than a screaming match full of curse words and eye rolling, disagreements should be handled with an honest conversation that has open communication and lots of listening. [Read: Relationship arguments and 23 dos and don’ts you shouldn’t ignore]

Lay out your concerns so you can brainstorm solutions together, instead of each partner arguing their point. Keeping your attention on a successful end result rather than ego is vital to maintaining respect and equality between you and your partner.

Only by upholding that respect for your partner can a resolution be reached without the risk of cruel and possibly regretful words. [Read: Immature things couples fight about all the time]

Naturally, when bringing up sensitive topics, holding down passionate and potentially uncontrolled emotions isn’t a simple feat. If you start a fight in the wrong mindset you can easily become overwhelmed by impulsive emotions that obscure your thinking and cause the fight to go awry.

Therefore, if a fight is getting out of control and you fear you may say something you regret, take a step back. Once a disagreement turns into yelling, cursing, or attacking one another’s character, it is near impossible to take those words back.

Additionally, serious conversations or arguments via text or social media can be just as damaging. There’s a lack of awareness on both sides.

With that, it is not at all advised to stop a fight or bury it because it is not going smoothly. Simply hit pause and take a breath. Whether you take an hour to calm down, go for a walk, and get your thoughts together to return with a more thoughtful and open mind, or simply say, “I’m sorry we’re fighting just know that I love you.” Talking when calm is essential. [Read: 8 things you MUST tell yourself when you’re fighting with your lover]

Such sensitive conversations can only be had and successfully dealt with when both partners are willing to put their anger aside and come together in a safe and respectful environment.

Clearly, fighting is something that every couple must deal with at some point. It doesn’t have to be as excruciating as it seems on television or even in your past.

By removing the drama and ego from a disagreement, a conflict can actually remain calm and come to a resolution without one raised voice or broken plate. If next time a problem arises, it is brought up and discussed respectfully, soon the nerves and fear of a fight will cease.

You may come to realize that by mastering the art of fighting fair, each disagreement you and your partner have brings you closer together, strengthening your bond, and ensuring your confidence in dealing with anything together. [Read: 8 Things to tell yourself when fighting with your lover]

Steps to take to fight fairly and lovingly

Now that you know all about conflict management and how you can do it a lot better, let’s wrap this up by talking about the specific steps you can take to solve your problems together.

Step 1: Identify your problem and unmet needs

Sometimes when people fight, they don’t even know what they are fighting about. So, both people have to first identify the problem and what your needs are that are not being met. If you don’t start here, then you can’t effectively communicate your problem to your partner.

Step 2: Make a date

By “date” we don’t mean going out for dinner and a movie. We mean a day and time to talk about the problem. You should make it when both of you are in a calm, rational mood so you can think clearly and not let it escalate into something negative. [Read: How to resolve conflict – the 15 best ways to cut out the drama]

Step 3: Describe your problem and needs

When you finally sit down to talk about your problems, you should describe what yours is to your partner. Talk about the logic of it and also your feelings associated with it. You want your partner to understand our perspective.

Step 4: Consider your partner’s point of view

Now it’s your partner’s turn to do the same thing. You really need to listen with an open mind and an open heart. While you are listening, try to put yourself into their shoes and see the situation from their point of view – even if you don’t agree with it.

Step 5: Negotiate a solution

The next step is to figure out a solution as a team. You have both presented your points of view and tried to have empathy for the other person. So now, how can you find a solution that both of you will be happy with? [Read: Relationship arguments – 25 do’s and don’ts to remember]

Step 6: Follow up with the solution

Once you come up with a solution, you how have to follow through with it. As the saying goes, “talk is cheap.” You have to take action and change your behavior – both of you – in order to implement the solution.

When you follow these six steps, “fighting” can actually make you grow closer.

[Read: How to fight fair in a relationship and grow closer]

Knowing why fighting in a relationship is important lets you focus on the upside of arguments rather than their bad reputation. The next time you both have a disagreement, remember that a fair argument will bring you closer instead of driving you apart.

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Samantha Ann
My name is Samantha Ann. I am 28 years old. It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding...