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In marriage, we are not always going to agree and get along perfectly. When we disagree, the ideal way to manage is to hear one another’s concerns and make the best choice for the marriage and family functioning. A healthy marriage is measured in how we work together and solve problems. Counseling couples to help them learn how to have healthy fights is an important aspect of couple’s therapy that sets the stage for even better communication.

“Why would I want to fight with my spouse? We have enough problems as it is!” Yes, fighting is not fun in marriage, but if you can learn to fight in a healthy way you can avoid marital problems. Disagreements are normal and can be useful for improving communication and getting needs met. I know, you are thinking “this sounds crazy,” but if there is no communication, goal setting, problem solving, or decision making together, the marriage is in trouble.

When placed in healthy rules and boundaries, couples in the Tulsa area can use these counseling techniques to improve their marital friendship, intimacy, and overall marital satisfaction. It is possible to feel heard, respected, and understood, even when we disagree or are frustrated with each other. So let’s jump in and look at some of these rules so you can get to fair fighting!

Tulsa Couples Counseling: 11 Rules to Fair Fighting:

  1. NO ABUSE. This rule must be followed in order to have a healthy and safe discussion. If there is ongoing physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, please get safe first and continue this discussion in therapy at a later time. Safety is always first.
  2. NO Substance Use. We need to be able to talk, reason, and be rational. If you or your spouse is not sober, fair fighting cannot occur.
  3. NO Disrespect. How we talk, the words we use, the tone of our voice, the level of sarcasm, stonewalling, and our facial features can all indicate disrespect. If there is disrespect, fair fighting cannot occur.
  4. Listen–When one person is speaking, the other is listening, not planning what they are going to say next! This is critical so that both partners are heard, understood, and respected. There is no “fair” fight unless both truly listen and hear each other.
  5. Reflect back what you heard. Reflecting back helps to ensure that there are no misunderstanding and each person feels heard and is understood. It is easier to problem solve when we are not angry at our spouse. This way, we can act as a team to problem solve after hearing what each person has to say.
  6. “I” statements. This perspective allows the person to say what they feel without blaming the other person. Try this formula: “I feel ____________________ when ______________________________________ happens and I would prefer that you _______________.
  7. Attack the Problem, Not the Person. Say your partner is drinking too much or too often and it’s becoming a problem in the marriage. Isolate the problem and brainstorm different ways that it can be addressed. Both spouses put in their input and a solution is based on what is best for the marriage and family.
  8. Only allowed to talk about present subject at hand. We don’t want to start with discussing one issue and then get lost in past issues, new problems, or future worries. We can’t fair fight unless there is a problem defined and we are ready to problem solve.
  9. Have timed arguments. Having timed arguments is a great idea. This ensures that both partners are heard, understood, and respected. This is also a method to stay on topic and avoid distractions, minimize speaking from pure emotionality, and begin to identify the problem to solve.
  10. One argument at a time. Fighting becomes chaotic when we speak from emotionality, anger, resentment, and disrespect. This means no throwing the past in each other’s face. What is meant by this statement is that we need to focus on one problem at a time so that we can begin to work together to find solutions to solve the problem.
  11. Not all problems are “problems”. How we handle situations can be problematic. Not all situations are problems have a clear cut answer, solution, or method that “solves” the problem. Sometimes we need to be able to vent, be heard, and process feelings in an emotionally safe space. Again, the goal for fair fighting is to be heard and understood in a healthy way.

From a marital therapy perspective, the goals of fair fighting are to be heard, understood, respected, and solve a problem as much as possible in a safe, emotional place.

If you live in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, there are problems in your marriage, and you and your spouse are ready for couples counseling, there is help! At Legacy Counseling Service in Tulsa, Oklahoma we provide counseling to couples in the Tulsa and Broken Arrow area improve their marriage and find more fun and happiness within the family, Visit us at and let’s begin a journey to a more peaceful and fulfilling marriage.

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