Reminder: Fighting With Your Partner Is A Journey, Not A Battle To Win

Conflict is normal and even healthy within a relationship, and while it may not feel like something you need training in, bringing a few fighting skills to the table could drastically change the nature of your partnership. Many of us enter fight, flight, freeze, or fawn mode when an argument is brewing with our loved one, but these knee-jerk reactions to tension and conflict can cause more complications than necessary when navigating choppy waters.


"Our relationships reach a whole new level of intimacy when we realise that we can be truthful and upfront about [issues], even when it comes to hard things," counseling psychologist and friendship expert Marisa G. Franco, Ph.D., told Glamour. Avoidance, passive aggressiveness, name calling, and fighting to win rather than fighting to evolve together can all be curbed when you remember fighting fairly with your partner is a journey, not a battle to win. Let's take a closer look at why and how.

Plan a controlled burn and follow the rules

Scheduling an appointment to have a fight — or a controlled burn, as some call it — may seem silly, but setting aside designated time to address a specific, recurring issue in your relationship will prevent heat-of-the-moment fights and a ton of unproductive energy wasted going head-to-head, rather than forward together. Having a few rules in place, like no involving third parties or attacking each other's insecurities, will help keep you both on track.


If you do find that a certain issue continues to arise no matter what the argument seems to be about on the surface level, then that deeper issue probably does need tending to — whether it's in the form of reassurance, a more thorough apology, or changed behavior, per Hey Sigmund. Try to think of your relationship as its own entity — one which both you and your partner want to see succeed. You are on the same team. And it is possible to have your needs met through a respectful, productive fight.

Take breaks and practice emotional sealing post-fight

If you find yourselves veering off track and entering battle mode, it's perfectly okay to pause together, step back and rejoin in 10 minutes. Allowing ourselves a break to cool off, re-center, and get into alignment with the purpose of the fight — or the health and wellbeing of your relationship — is key. During your break, honor yourself and try to get the bigger picture back into view. Again, this takes two. If one partner is practicing conscious communication, but the other is struggling to show empathy, you'll remain stagnant together. Reinstate the intentions you set pre-fight and model the energy you'd like to receive. 


Once you've walked the long and winding road together, you're both (hopefully) feeling clearer, content, and flushed out of any resentment, anger, or anxiety. Maybe going for a long, quiet walk together will bring you both back into the present. Allow for levity of the moment to arise and for your relationship to shift back into regulation. "Seal" the conflict with some form of affection and make yourself accessible with gentleness (when you're ready, that is), per Better by Today. Some need more time than others to reach a more neutral emotional state after a high intensity conversation and that's perfectly okay.