Here's How Fighting Can Strengthen Your Relationship

Here's How Fighting Can Strengthen Your Relationship
Ⓒ Provided by Men's Health

By Jay Shetty, Men's Health

Every couple argues—or should. No matter how compatible you are, living in conflict-free bliss isn’t love; it’s avoidance. But how do you argue in a way that’s not just having the same old fight every time? Knowing your fight styles—how each of you processes conflict—makes it easier to get a handle on your arguments and helps you stay neutral. My wife, Radhi, and I have completely different styles of arguing. I want to dive in and talk it out, whereas she wants to collect her thoughts and cool down a bit before we speak. I’m eager to find a resolution, while she wants to take a break, decompress, and think through the issue on her own before reconvening. Understanding this about each other stopped me from feeling hurt when she would go quiet during an argument, and it stopped her from being annoyed when I would want to discuss an issue at length. Identifying your partner’s fight style and your own is the first step toward fighting for love.

Read More: What's Worth Fighting Over In A Relationship?

Find Your Fight Style

Most people rely on one of these when conflict arises. See which best describes you:


Some people, like me, want to express their anger and keep hashing it out until a solution is reached. To paraphrase a common saying, there are three sides to every argument: yours, mine, and the truth. There is no objective truth. The fighter who is solution oriented wants to get to an answer and is often overly focused on facts. It’s natural to want to solve the problem, but if this is you, you need to remember to slow down and make room not just for facts, which are often up for debate, but for both sides of the story and for two sets of emotions: yours and your partner’s. Watch out for unfiltered talking—in your eagerness to wrap things up, you might overwhelm your partner with too many ideas and approaches. Don’t rush to an answer. First, you and your partner will need to agree about what issue you’re up against. Only then can you look for solutions together.


Some people shut down in an argument. The emotions are just too strong, and you need space. You need to process. You either go silent in the middle of the argument or leave the room and have to regroup before continuing. The person who withdraws doesn’t want to contemplate solutions in the heat of the moment. They aren’t ready to hear them and may grow more annoyed if their partner pushes for a quick resolution. If this is your style, take the time and space you need, but don’t use your silence as a way of doing battle.


Some of us can’t control our anger, so we erupt with emotion. This response takes a great toll on relationships, and it’s a behavior you should make a concerted effort to change. If you fall into this category, you must work on managing your emotions. This might involve bringing in outside resources to help you with anger management. Or you can make a plan with your partner during a time of peace, deciding that the next time you fight, you agree to take a time-out. Figure out what would work best for you: perhaps going for a run, taking a shower, or otherwise letting off steam.

Read More: Therapist 12 Tips for Fighting Couples

How to Work With Your Fight Style

Once you’ve identified your fight style, talk to your partner about it. What do they think theirs is? Based on your styles, create space for each of you to be angry and make a schedule that lets you deal with it properly.

If one or both of you like to vent, the other might need more time and space to process. Just because one person isn’t ready doesn’t mean they don’t love the other, and they should reassure their partner of this. Make sure you know each other’s process before the next argument so that your different fight styles don’t become the reason the fight escalates. Look to develop your self-expression, but allow yourself the time you need to decompress and think before trying to address the issue. If you both like to vent, this can work well if you’re doing so in an intentional way, with the goal of overcoming the issue together.

If your partner needs to retreat, let them go. Withdrawal may feel like a punishment, but that’s not necessarily their intention. It’s an emotional reaction. If you need to withdraw, say so. If one or both of you want space, plan to talk when the two of you are ready. Make good use of the extra time this gives you. Instead of allowing yourselves to get even more worked up, remember that you are on the same side, and try to distill the issue to its core so that when you return to the conversation, you can articulate what you and your partner are up against.

If your partner is explosive, encourage them during a period of calm to work on the behavior. The same is true if you are both explosive. During an argument, you can simply say, “We’re not going to come to a solution when either of us is this upset. Let’s talk when we’re ready.”

You don’t need to avoid fighting to have a good relationship. Love built on honesty and understanding is deep and fulfilling but not necessarily peaceful. Rather than looking at an argument like you’re taking sides against each other, frame the conversation as if it’s the two of you taking on the problem. Keeping this concept in mind and respecting each other’s fight style helps you fight the issue together instead of fighting each other.

Read More: Five Bad Habits That Can Ruin Your Relationship

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Love Magazine: Here's How Fighting Can Strengthen Your Relationship
Here's How Fighting Can Strengthen Your Relationship
In his book, 8 Rules of Love, former monk and podcaster Jay Shetty uncovers the keys to healthy fights that strengthen your relationship.
Love Magazine
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