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Fair Fighting Guidelines


Conflict in relationships is inevitable, but it can be conducted in a responsible and respectful manner.  Remember, there are always two sides to every story, and usually there is no right or wrong, only differences of opinions.

1. Do your best not to talk or discuss issues when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired (HALT), Rushed, Stressed, or Physically Ill.

2. Let your partner know that you want to Dialogue (Code Word for important issue requiring being in a “good space”), and make an appointment to do so. The appointment could be right away, after dinner, etc., but needs to be a definite time that is put on each person’s calendar. If your partner requests it, let them know what the topic is so they can emotionally and intellectually prepare.

a.  Discuss only one (1) “current, here & now issue” per dialogue.  Past issues are to be   processed in Couples Therapy or during a separate dialogue appointment.

3. Take time apart and write down main points and put it down on paper in non-abusive, non-name-calling language. No cussing or threatening. Calling a person “untrustworthy”, “irresponsible”, “lazy”, etc. is name-calling. Instead, focus on the behavior that you do not like, rather than their character.

4. Rule: The most upset person talks first – and is mirrored by the other person. Set a timer. 5 minutes each.

5. Notice your body. Learn the cues that you are getting angry. If you feel yourself becoming angry, ask for a time out of 30 minutes.

6.  If you notice your partner becoming very angry, ask if it would be helpful to take a time out for 30 minutes. If partner refuses and the situation is getting worse, tell your partner that you are taking a time out.

7.Take time out-about 30 minutes. Synchronize watches with each other so that you return at the same time.

An alternate tactic to a time out is to go to a public place, like Denny’s, and have your dialogue there. Use your desire to be socially appropriate to help you keep your cool.

You can also take a time out and then go to the public place.
8. During your time out:

a.  Listen to a meditation tape.

b.  Say things to yourself like:

“I know we can work this out.”
”My partner is in his/her wounded child.

“I know my partner loves me.”

“I choose to behave like a self-respecting child of my Higher Power (or God).”

c.  Take a walk, do jumping jacks, take a warm bath, etc.
9. Come back EXACTLY on time.  This is very important to avoid one or both feeling abandoned. Check to see if you both can discuss the issue without losing control.

10. Take another 30-minute time out if necessary.  Otherwise, dialogue.

You Can Do It!




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