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University Life & Services


Fighting the Fair Way


We have three major assumptions. Disagreement and conflict are inevitable in intimate relationships. Styles of expressing anger are learned and therefore can be changed. Angry feelings depend on one's perception of the situation. So developing self knowledge, listening, and communicating skills are the keys to fair-fighting.

Generally we think of fights as angry confrontations between two or more people where tempers flare, voices are raised, and insults are exchanged. This way of resolving conflict, while unfortunately common, usually results in bitterness, distrust, and desire for revenge. The issues may be temporarily settled, but one or both partners feel resentful, angry or hurt. Both partners can experience a loss of intimacy.

Clean, fair fights, on the other hand, are confrontations in which disagreements and grievances are dealt with according to a specific set of guidelines. Applying these principles, along with the skills of active listening and a collaborative attitude allows differences to be negotiated.

Both partners will be more likely to feel refreshed, resolved, and relieved that important issues have been dealt with. Successful fights tend to clear up problems and increase intimacy by helping each partner understand the other better.

The following guidelines highlight some of the major fair and unfair fighting techniques couples use with each other. Remember, what you need to decide is not "Should I express my anger?" or even "How should I express my anger?", but "How can I communicate to my partner about this issue so that s/he will do something about it?".

Getting Ready






Negotiating - Win/Win



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