Fighting with Your Boyfriend? (or Girlfriend?) Fight Fair!

By Jackie Pilossoph, Creator and Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling site, podcast and app, Love Essentially columnist and author

I think it’s pretty safe to say that one of the reasons people get divorced is because they fight or argue a lot with their spouse. What starts out as bickering can turn into shouting, insults, name calling, and cruel remarks, which can turn into pouting, or days on end of not speaking to each other. Before you know it, the two of you have given up. Married or not, I think if you are constantly fighting with your boyfriend (or girlfriend), you need some help. Everyone fights, but do you know how to fight fair?

There is something I’ve come to realize both because of my divorce and by being in a long term relationship with someone else. Again, everyone fights, but the difference between those who are generally happy in their relationships and those who are miserable (or who end up divorced or broken up) is the way the couple handles the fighting. Here are 10 tips that might help you the next time you are fighting with your boyfriend (or girlfriend.)

1. Listen to each other: So often, when a couple is arguing, each one is so intent on getting his or her point across that they refuse to listen to the other person’s side. It’s very difficult, but give your spouse the courtesy of letting him or her speak.
2. Keep your voice low and controlled: I’ll be the first one to admit that when I have an argument, my voice rises by several decibels. Shouting is not only a waste of energy, but it sets the tone and the argument just gets nasty. Plus, it scares kids. ☹
3. Take a little breather: If the two of you have been trying to work out an issue for awhile, and it’s just not going anywhere, there’s nothing wrong with a little breather. When I say breather, I don’t mean break up and start dating other people. Simply going to or renting a movie by yourself, or going out with some girlfriends, (or guy friends) is a great way to take a deep breath and think more clearly. Chances are, once the person is “out of your face” your memory will recall some of the things you love about him or her and you can go back home and settle your disagreement more easily.
4. Always remember who you are talking to: Fighting can bring out real feelings of disgust, anger, frustration, and even hatred. Remember that if you are with the right person, he or she is also your best friend, no matter what. You are supposed to be nicer to that person than anyone else on earth. No matter how much anger you are feeling, try to remember that.
5. Hug him or her if he or she says something you agree with: I once had an argument with my boyfriend that lasted for a few days. Every time we’d try to talk about it, things seemed to get worse, and our views seemed to be getting wider and wider apart. Finally, I said something that resonated and he just grabbed me and hugged me, and said “You finally said something that makes sense to me!” From that moment on, our views on the issue became less and less wide, and we were able to work it out. That was the turning point.
6. If you owe an apology, say “I’m sorry!” Why are people so afraid to say those two words? People have so much respect for others who are willing to own up to things they’ve done that weren’t nice or that were wrong. It will get you very far. Trust me.
7. Agree to disagree: Not every argument is solvable. At some point, you can agree to disagree. There’s nothing wrong with accepting something if you feel okay with it. In other words, you don’t always have to convince your spouse to agree that you are right. Who cares??
8. Have a no bad language or name calling rule: Using four letter words and derogatory language is just setting you up for years of resentment. Both men and women do not forget those things so quickly.
9. Have sex: Physical contact really helps regain closeness and intimacy. It renews the bonds of love. Sex won’t solve all your issues, but it really does help people feel a sense of love and closeness.
10. Laugh! This is my favorite tip. If you can find humor in your fight, that’s the best. Think about how insignificant so many fights are! Lots of times, if you start laughing, or make a joke, and then say, “Why are we fighting? I love you and I’m sorry, let’s just have fun tonight,” your spouse will take your lead and follow, and you’ll end up making up at that moment.

There are exceptions and there are deal breakers, of course. If someone just told you he or she cheated, or if they physically abuse you, I don’t think a laugh or having sex or agreeing to disagree is an effective method for ending the fight. But for so many fights, these tips really do work!

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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers. The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

3 Responses to “Fighting with Your Boyfriend? (or Girlfriend?) Fight Fair!”

  1. pat

    Fell into your site and read some of your stuff, you write well, like you talk, which is how most good writers go about it.

    Read a couple of strings and there sure is a lot of pain out there, ouch!

    Switching gears, curious if either you or former spouse come from big families? I had to laugh at the first time my wife came back from a family dinner. She asked why we were all yelling at each other and I explained if you didn’t speak up you didn’t get heard! I then asked if she remembered any name calling and she recalled that she hadn’t. (name calling was NEVER EVER allowed at the dinner table). Having a legal back ground most men and women would rather get smacked physically than verbally.

    No science behind this, but my experience informs children from big families learn to fight in a more constructive manner. Famous quote that I use to this day with my children is “Settle your argument without me, because if I have to get involved neither of you are going to like the result” Mom and dad stuck religiously to that and I must say it provides for a good framework for early negotiating skills with your siblings that you eventually carry into your marriage.

    Keep writing for now — stop when it becomes work as most readers will quickly discover this.



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