Indigo's Peer Journal Exercise- #10

Having a "Good" Fight

Good communication is incredibly important to enhancing feelings of safety, trust, and intimacy in any relationship.  In a relationship where one partner (or both) are experiencing difficulties related to abuse, this can be a huge task.  Miscommunication can lead to distance in the relationship, which further degrades security and trust.  Almost everyone will have disagreements with their partner at some point.  This is especially likely to happen if your mate suddenly feels you are expecting different responses from them than they are used to giving.

The worst thing about having a mate is fighting with them.  It can also be one of the best things a pair of committed people can do- if it's done constructively.   Below are some guidelines about having a fair fight and getting good communication moving in the right direction.

Steps for Fair Fighting


What exactly do I want?
Is this worth fighting about?
Do I want to hurt my partner?
Am I trying to get even?
Am I arguing to win or do I want an agreement?
Set the time
Find a mutually agreeable time for the fight.
Do I have time to argue, or will I be rushed?
Try to make it within twenty-four hours of any disagreement.
Once set, keep the date
State the Problem
Clearly state what I do or don't like
Stick to the facts (this step is a good one to practice before doing it with my partner)
       State My Feelings
Use "I" messages to describe how I feel.
Take responsibility for my feelings.
Do not blame my partner for my feelings.
Propose Change
State clearly what I want my partner to do or not do.
Be as clear as possible.
Request specific changes.
Outline Consequences
Describe any benefits of the change.
Try to include how you'll feel if the change isn't made.
Beware of empty threats
Be honest with what my consequences will be.
Partner's Response
The response will be either an agreement to my proposal,
A refusal of my proposal,
A counter-proposal,
A request for more time to think about it,
or my partner may go to step 3 keeping to the original topic.
Resolution or end of round
If we both agree, the fight is over
A trial period can be set for trying the new behavior.
If we cannot reach an agreement, set a date for another round.
Each of us repeat the agreement making sure we both have the same understanding
Put the agreement in writing so you can both review it in written form

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