START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Can a Good Fight Save Your Relationship?

3. Constructive criticism does not work. Criticism is usually not constructive. Itís about our anger and our wish to punish or be superior. Being critical creates defensiveness and, after some time, contempt and then silence. There is a difference between a criticism and a complaint. A criticism is a negative judgment of the other person. Itís like telling them that they are bad, inferior or stupid. A complaint is like criticism but without the bite. It is instead the expression of what we want, need or donít want. Arguments are best served by putting what we want in a future context. ďNext time could we do it this way?Ē When we are criticized we feel like we have been painted into a corner and we canít get out. We have done this bad thing and thereís no redemption. Complaints not only tell our partner who we are but it gives them a future context for success.

4. Anger: donít suppress it, donít express it. Everyone gets angry. The trick is how to manage it. Anger is a red flag; it tells us that something has hurt us or we are sad, guilty or ashamed. This can be old or new and is either about something that is happening in the moment or is from a long time ago or both. If we use anger as a way to see what is happening to us, then it offers some choices and can be very productive. The best thing to do with anger is to listen to it, find out what is being stimulated and then come back to the table and talk about what you want next time around.

5. Compassion, understanding, respect and empathy. If we are not actually expressing one of these then we are usually way off track. In relationships, kindness is the key to resolving conflicts. Loving kindness along with what I term the C.U.R.E. as in compassion, understanding, respect and empathy are the processes to use in our interactions. My nephew Rob Richman asked me to define respect. What I said to him was that respect is about not wanting to hurt someone because we respect their right to be treated fairly. To do no harm. Empathy is often misunderstood. It can be defined as ďvicarious introspectionĒ like seeing from behind their eyes. Empathy is the way we connect. Connection should always come first.

6. Needing to be right or win the argument. It is important to remember that an argument is an opportunity to create good feelings by expressing concern for the opinions of the other person. Needing to be right is the wish to not be wrong or feeling like being wrong is an indication of your inadequacy. You may win the fight but lose the war. What we create is usually contempt and disrespect. With all that we know, how can we miss this one? Yet there we are trying to win or needing to be right. It takes time and work to understand how to stop and listen. The most important relationship skill of all is the ability to step back and try to see what our part in the conflict may be. You never know, you might just learn something about yourself. We all have blind spots and we are blind to them. It takes someone who really cares to tell us the truth. The least we can do is to take it seriously.

At the end of the day, what has to be number one is the atmosphere we live in with our mate. If we want to maintain that space between us that is filled with good feeling, fun and support then we have to fight fair. If connection is the most important value then everything else is less important. Going for the harmony and creating a more loving relationship requires that we are willing to own up to what we have done to upset our partner and then do something about it. Fair fights that end positively even humorously are the most critical skills for long lasting relationships. If to know you is to love you then what they know has to be lovable.

Conflict Resolution: 6 Simple Steps
4 Ways to Fix Communication Breakdowns
3 Tips for Increasing Connected Communication

Read more: Love, Relationships, , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Dr. Bill Cloke

Dr. Bill Cloke has worked with individuals and couples for 30 years. He received a masterís degree in education from the University of Southern California and holds a PhD in psychology from California Graduate Institute. A frequent talk-radio and TV psychologist, he is also a contributor to and other popular websites and has lectured at UCLA. Bill Cloke lives with his wife in Los Angeles. To learn more about Bill Cloke, and for more resources on creating healthy, happy relationships, visit


+ add your own
11:31AM PDT on Sep 1, 2012

good reminders

1:10PM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

I don’t like arguments. Someone could get hurt emotionally and physically and emotions, (if the wrong thing is said) take a lifetime to heal because what was said comes from the heart of someone. If couples would practice what Michele W wrote, you can get a lot solved without getting out of control.

10:19AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

This is awesome. Thank you!

4:23AM PDT on Mar 21, 2012

A fight could be the chance too restart or to end a relation

2:40PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Instead of fighting deal with things as they come up. Good way to handle others around you is to be true to yourself...don't get made at yourself,don't cuss at your self,show compassion to it for yourself first makes it easier to show it to others...always forgive yourself.

2:03PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

I like the end bit about about fair fights being able to end humorously. My partner and I often end up laughing together after a fight, and those are definitely the best ones to have.

Of course we also have our share of 'bad' fights, where we both need to cool down and regain some perspective and love!

2:01PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

I hate arguing. Luckily, my husband hates it too, but that is not to say we don't disagree at times.
We find the best way to deal with disagreements is to sit down together, have a cup of tea, and talk over whatever the problem is. All points of view are discussed, and we can usually find some compromise.

1:49PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Thank you! I know when I get into arguements I just need to cool of for a while, and then start discussing again.

12:47PM PST on Feb 16, 2012


12:40PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

It's true; good love means good fights.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Thank you

Who wants to play dead, anyway? Who thought playing dead is a good idea? Life is for being alive.

Another article meant to scare people into believing no matter what they do they are being poisoned …

Thanks for the good advice!


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!