I recently read the nonfiction book “Group How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved my Life” by Christie Tate. I thought this was such a good book I was ready to sign up for group therapy.

There is one part of the book that still makes me think. At one point the author describes to her group how she and her present boyfriend had never fought.

“Dr. Rosen piped up. ‘Pray for a fight.

‘Why?

‘Because you want a truly intimate relationship.’

That means fighting?

‘If you aren’t willing to fight, how can you be intimate?'”

I admit that I’ve said for a long time that couples that don’t fight aren’t real- that there’s no way that two people get along all the time…

But what’s the line between healthy fighting and non healthy fighting?

I definitely know couples who fight but I don’t consider them to have an intimate relationship- quite the opposite. They fight so much they never have a kind word for one another.

So what is healthy fighting?

How do we achieve it?

How do we know the difference between fighting for the good of a relationship and fighting for the bad of a relationship?

Are mere mortals such as ourselves capable of healthy, relationship strengthening, intimacy forward fighting?

How do we learn to fight without damaging one another?

I’ve always tried to go by the following:

  1. No name calling
  2. No bringing up things from the past
  3. Concentrate on the immediate transgression
  4. No blame
  5. Use feelings: when you did X, it made me feel Y

But what if your partner doesn’t fight fair?

I know of couples where one partner still brings up the time their partner forgot to throw out the garbage ten years prior. I know other people who respond to fights with subtle words like “You know where the door is.”

Is it a fair fight if one person is using heavy duty ammunition?

If two people are not on the same page, can you achieve intimacy?

What do you think about this concept- fighting for love?

Do you have rules for fights?

Do you have a threshold of what you will and won’t fight about?

Do you try to avoid fights in relationships?

Let’s duke it out…

67 thoughts on “Fight for Love

  1. Ooh I might have to look that book up. It sounds interesting. Great topic too. Hubby and I rarely fight. Neither of us likes conflict. But I do feel there’s a place for healthy conflict in a relationship. Sometimes I get frustrated that we can’t just have something out. I agree that it creates more intimacy in the long run.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I am so fortunate to be in a marriage that doesn’t include much fighting. I despise drama. In all our 27 years together, I think we have only had three big fights. We bicker sometimes, of course, but none of the knock-out drag-out fights I’ve seen in other couples. I wouldn’t say we consciously try to avoid conflict, we just get along really well!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I think one way a couple builds intimacy is by being able to disagree about an issue, but then resolve the conflict in a healthy way. That kind of communication builds trust. I don’t know that I would say fighting is necessary for a relationship to be successful, but intimacy certainly dies when one or both partners don’t feel safe in expressing themselves.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Early in our marriage, we attended something called a “Marriage encounter”, I want to say, we’d been married a couple of years. The session on “How to have a good fight” stuck with both of us even up to the present, almost 40 years later. The list you shared, pretty much covers everything we both attempt to operate from. If there is no conflict in a relationship, then one of you is lying. 🙂 Two imperfect people living together = recipe for friction. Negative stuff, on the other hand can and will destroy intimacy in a relationship. Great topic this morning to unpack LA!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hmmm fighting….my hubby and I used to indulge a fair bit in that; these days not so much. I think it has a lot to do with maturing and I really like your rules. we go by much the same. We had a lot to learn in our fighting days. I am grateful we learned and grew beyond it. Not that we never fight any more but I think now we are more open, more respectful of one another, and that only came by surviving the more arbitrary days.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Interesting question LA 🙂

    I’m not a fighter. Any relationship which relies on fighting to generate passion isn’t one I want to be in. That said, when one or other party won’t engage in any form of argument or discussion where there are grossly different views and the subject is not trivial… that doesn’t bode well for a happy future. I agree with Cindy’s comment that the no talking is frequently problematic, if not terminal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you don’t talk, what’s the point? Though I read a really good fiction book about a half of a couple who stops talking. I can’t remember the name but it showed this exact issue

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think there is a big difference between a disagreement and a fight. Disagreements are normal, constant fighting is not. Sometimes people partner up with the wrong person and discover they have nothing in common. Especially when the children grow up. It seems that this happens all the time. Or at least I’ve seen this happen with several of my friends.

    I’ve been married twice. My first husband and I were simply too young. But we got along really well. To this day we are good friends. My second husband died at age 55. We fought now and then but our relationship worked. A few years after he died, my old boyfriend from college found me and we rekindled our old relationship. Bad move! We fought ALL the time and so I ended it. We were not a good match. While we were still attracted to each other physically, we differed politically, spiritually, intellectually, and what was interesting was that when we dated in our late teens, he was a little older and had more life experience than I, so I suppose in his mind he felt he was in control, or the top dog in our youthful relationship. I think I was just young and clueless and we both were totally overcome with hormones! LOL Years later, he was shocked to discover that I was a vocally independent woman who was not going to be told what to do or how to think etc. He had grown up to be, in my opinion, a very narrow minded, conservative curmudgeon. And I became an even more liberal than I was as a college student. I don’t know how he didn’t notice I was a bit of a rebellious hippie and somehow I never knew he was a republican.(oy vey!) incredible as it seems, We never realized we were political opposites.

    But, I knew after a few months that he was not a good match for me. Plus, he had never been a parent and thought he could tell me how to act towards my grown sons and my oldest grandchild. One day I just looked at him and I thought, well he was still really good looking, but he was a royal jerk. And I ended things. Why would anyone stay in a relationship where you constantly fought? No thanks .

    Quite honestly, while I think it’s normal to disagree now and then, too much of it is not healthy for one’s soul. And so I chose to stay single once I hit my 60’s. I found that most men my age were too set in their ways. Or just wanted someone to take care of them. No thank you.
    To paraphrase Gloria Steinem, “Men become more conservative with age, and women grow more open minded.” Even my happily married friends agree with this. So, for me… who the heck needs or wants the disagreements? Not me! Now, had my second husband lived I’m sure I would have ignored an occasional tiff. But I’m definitely not going to go looking for one at 70! LOL
    Happy fighting you all. 😉

    Liked by 5 people

    1. You make a good distinction that disagreements are clearly different than all out fights. But this is why I found this passage in the book so interesting. How do we define a good fight? Are they loud or quiet? Trivial or big? What is too little fighting and what is too much? Obviously everyone has their own threshold, but what’s the healthy way for a relationship to grow? I’m still chewing this one over

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I personally don’t think fighting is healthy. Because fighting often involves raised voices and anger. It’s ok to disagree. But the difference with fighting usually means that one party feels hurt or believes the other person is truly wrong. Usually fighting doesn’t allow for compromise. The only thing I remember really fighting about with my late husband was where our son would go for college. He didn’t want him to leave home. The crazy thing was that our son was an advanced placement scholar and therefore graduated high school with two years of college credits and needed to go away to a four year university. For some reason my husband didn’t want this. Most likely because he went to a junior college his first two years and then his last two years he went to another school. He didn’t get that our kid had a bright future’s scholarship, an academic scholarship and the Fl prepaid fund so he was set. Plus he already had too many credits to go locally. I think he just couldn’t deal with him going away.. There was no compromise there. I took our son up to look at schools and he selected the one he wanted to attend. I normally compromised but not when it came to my son’s education.
        Obviously I won out. But my son had a heart to heart with his dad and that was that. I now believe my husband was already sick with his pancreatic cancer, it just wasn’t diagnosed at the time. I don’t think he was thinking straight. He died while our son was still in college and so he never saw him graduate magna cum laude. In any event that was our biggest argument. Life is too short to fight. We don’t need to be angry or afraid to express our feelings or worry about ticking off our partners.

        I think couples need to decide what works for them. I don’t know what a healthy way for a relationship to grow is. Unfortunately I never got to see what life as a married retired person could be like. I have quite a few friends who split up when their husband retired. Sometimes it was the husband’s fault and sometimes the wife had just had enough. Everyone is different. There is no one recipe that works for everyone. But I will never see how fighting is productive. Discussions, yes. Not heated fights.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I will tell you…my husband and I have been around each other, with my daughter, 24/7 for way too long. When he retires we need a bigger house and he needs lots of hobbies

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Ha! Yes, I think retiring can be seeing a little too much of your spouse. I remember my mother constantly trying to enroll my father in classes because she said he was driving her crazy. Lol

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Adding… I agree that fighting needs to be fair, and think your rules LA are ones I would concur with. But one shouldn’t forget that refusing to engage is also an unfair act.

    One final thought, is how important it is – particularly to those of us who are in second/third relationships – to realise that we each bring our own baggage with us, and that can include the way we fight/argue, and our response to conflict. Himself used to offer to leave every time we had a disagreement, as that was the dynamic in his previous relationship, which was extremely volatile – constantly stopping and re-starting. He’s stopped doing that now, thank goodness 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellent point. When you have baggage and have always had a certain dynamic, how do you progress? When your partners way of dealing with something is to clam up, how do you proceed?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s tricky, but the key is both have to be prepared to work on it. I managed to resolve the dynamic with Himself, as he was a willing participant. I didn’t manage to resolve the refusing to engage dynamic with an ex, as he was great at making statements (generally to other people) which sounded good, but didn’t get the need to follow through and act on them. You live, you learn – or at least one of us did 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I go along with your rules and have one to add. No leaving the room at any time during the fight unless agreed upon. I hate it when someone just walks away and leaves me steaming. If you don’t ever fight then someone is swallowing a whole bunch of anger and resentment.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I think it would be more helpful to say it is good for couples disagree as opposed to fighting. It may seem like semantics, but the nuances are important and they aren’t completely interchangeable. Fighting just has a very different tone and can easily slide into some very negative areas where disagreements don’t. A disagreement can lead to fighting, but it isn’t exactly the same. It is healthy to have different opinions and to debate those in healthy ways with your partner as it does help each of you to grow and understand each other better. Actual fighting tends to lead to hurts, emotional or even physical, that are sometimes difficult to overcome. When people don’t have any disagreements you are either dealing with at least one person in the relationship always holding in their own wants, needs, and opinions, which is never healthy. Or you have a situation where those involved don’t care and become stagnant, which, again, isn’t healthy for a relationship.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. With my husband and I stuck home together, going on 10 months, we do get on each other’s nerves. I was driving the other day and my husband started in on correcting my driving.

    I said, “I’m out.” I braked the car, got out and slammed the door. We were only a couple blocks from home. Then I realized I didn’t have a house key. So, I opened the car door and said, “I’m back!” He laughed and laughed.

    Sometimes before losing our temper, we need to take a few deep breaths and wonder if the drama and tension is worth the trouble.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. How I love reading all the comments!
    I also read a great book about how to argue, given me by my therapist, called ‘Hold me Tight’. Thoroughly recommend that too: arguing & airing tensions is essential work in a relationship, but needs to be done with care- your rules are great ❤️🙏🏼 love G

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  13. I think we are more likely to have an argument with someone we love. It’s only natural to express your true feelings to someone you trust. And that may start a fight. I’d add one more rule to your list. Never go to bed angry. Resolve any issues even if it is agreeing to disagree. It’s damaging to let this stuff fester over time

    Liked by 1 person

  14. LA,
    There’s a marriage counselor/therapist/doctor on the west coast who can determine with amazingly high accuracy whether a couple will make it or not after watching how they argue/fight. Dr. Gottman describes signs a marriage is in real trouble and could be headed for divorce as the 4 horsemen. If you use contempt, are defensive, critical or stonewall, these are signs that your relationship is in trouble according to his theory. Here’s a site that goes into more detail or you can just look up John Gottman.
    http://www.acouplesplace.com/Gottmans_Four_Horsemen_are_Divorce_Predictors.html

    Hope this answers a few questions. Mona

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I read this yesterday and didn’t have a chance to reply. I grew up in a house where my Dad never yelled, in fact, I never heard my Dad yell my entire life. My Mom on occasion blew her stack but it was rare. I married an Italian who grew up in a loud household when fights would break out. So as we have grown up together, we married at 23, we’ve adopted our own fighting style, it’s not any better or worse than any other, it’s just ours. What I seem to notice in relationships is there is one who is controlling and one who tends to be more relaxed about things? One who observes and one who criticizes, one who shuts down, and one who uses aggression to get what they want. I guess you have to know what your dealing with, we don’t change much, and make adjustments as needed. C

    Liked by 1 person

      1. True, it’s weird, I have always had trouble with authority, I’m sort of a free spirit, or a wanabe free spirit. My husband is more authoritian by nature. How we ever married is beyound me! Our most recent row was over my husbands annoyance of me checking for comments on my phone while watching a show! We didn’t talk for two days! Weeks, sometimes months go by between rows, thankfully. C

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Many years ago when a child, ! witnessed my enraged mother throw a Moulinex food mixer across the dining room aiming to hit my father, the reason for the blazing row escapes me and I’d guess my parents couldn’t have told you two days later because lol marriage is that way sometimes? They sometimes rowed when younger though that blossomed into a beloved friendship in old age where they could finish each other’s sentences pause permitting. Fifty three years married and yes they had arguments which they’d find hilarious retelling as anecdotes years later……… Both sets of my Grandparents reached their Golden weddings and my lasting memory is of totally devoted husband and wife……….. perhaps true love only final arrives in older age, who knows perhaps younger couples just don’t give marriage a chance to blossom when youthful petulance and ego get in the way?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I know what you mean. I ask myself the same questions. I just found out my ex husband died (a few years ago but I just found out…look for a blog in the future) and I’ve been too much in my head about that

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Great question, LA. Conflict in all relationships is inevitable. It’s part of what makes a relationship, a relationship. However, in my 20 year marriage we fought, well, what is often? At least once a week, and yet, we never really accomplished anything. I think in a “fight” or difficult conversation, there must be movement of some kind. Otherwise you are standing still as people, and a couple.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You’re absolutely right. Our counselor had similar rules. I think we also approached ‘conversations’ by declaring the intent to talk, then we were to study this list of feelings for ten minutes and decide how we felt; any time we weren’t clear on that we were to take another ten minute break. So, it goes along with not blaming at all. It’s more of a “I feel this way when this happened,” to which they respond, “I’m sorry you feel like that. What can we do to help you not feel that way?”

    I also liked the advice recently that all problems are ‘our problems.’

    Liked by 1 person

  19. It takes two to compromise and two to fight. One could/should lead to the other.

    I agree with several comments that when either side refuses to engage it does not bode well for the relationship. That was my experience.

    Come to think of it, looking back, he usually deferred to me in the daily and mundane decisions of family life. The larger decisions usually led to a compromise by one or both of us. Turned out, though, at least according to him, that he hadn’t expected me to compromise and move the family when his job moved, 15 years ago, when I had thought we had reached that decision together.

    More recently he stopped asking for my opinion and just thought I should read his mind and know what he wanted even if he didn’t ask. That’s really what let to our fights and our split.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This post is a month old but I still want to respond. Both my husband & I will drop a subject & walk away to avoid a fight. Sometimes he does it; sometimes I do. Not every time, but often. We are both so reactive that otherwise we would fight too much! But we both fight fair & that’s helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

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