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Couples & Married

The Fight Club: How couples can fight and stay happy

By Aly Walansky

Couples argue. Period. Any couple who says, “We never fight!,, I would question the quality of their relationship.

If they are communicating openly and honestly, they are going to disagree at some point. According to relationship expert John Gottman, PhD., here are the four worst ways to disagree:

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

1. Criticism: Attacking your partner’s personality or character; “I’m right, you’re wrong”, “you always…” “you never…”, “you’re the type of person who …”, “why are you so …”

2. Contempt: Attacking your partner’s sense of self through insults/name calling, hostile humor, sarcasm, mockery, and body language/tone of voice (sneering, eye-rolling)

3. Defensiveness: Seeing yourself as a victim and averting a perceived attack by making excuses or whining

4. Stonewalling: Withdrawing from the relationship (physically or emotionally) to avoid conflict. Conveys disapproval, icy distance, separation, disconnection, and/or smugness

So what can you do if you notice yourself participating in criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and/or stonewalling?

1. Make specific complaints & requests (when X happened, I felt Y, I want Z)

2. Listen well. Pay attention to the core emotions your partner is expressing and listen to what your partner really wants/needs.

3. Validate your partner. Show empathy. Let him/her know that you understand what he/she is saying and feeling.

4. Show appreciation and be positive. It takes 5 positive interactions to compensate for one negative interaction! Stack up on the positives.

5. Take responsibility. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” & “What can I do about it?”.

6. Re-write your inner script. Replace thoughts of righteous indignation or innocent victimization with thoughts of appreciation that are soothing & validating.

7. Practice letting go. Allow your partner’s fighting words to be what they really are: just words and thoughts. Let go of the stories that you are making up.

And the best part of fighting ~ making up, of course.

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Reader Comments:

16 Responses to “The Fight Club: How couples can fight and stay happy”

  1. [...] How Couples Fight And Stay Happy? [...]

  2. sally says:

    my boyfriend is seeing another woman and i want him to stay with only me.wat should i do

    • Benson moses says:

      1.always rasur hm of ur lv nd trust.
      2.ds tim u hv2 b d 1 listnin 2 hm as a gud mothr 2son.
      3.findout wht he lvs d most nd provid it.
      4.share lif talk nd mor wt hm.
      5.try2 acquir tht tht he sis n d othr lady.
      6.apriciat hm evn mor thn he has don.

    • Sherry says:

      Please do yourself a favour and realize you are than that and find a NEW boyfriend!

    • ALTRISHA says:


    • Mary Anne says:

      Love yourself and show some pride, if he cheated you on the first place he is not worth it.

    • Stephen says:

      Give him the best of your time,your care than before and things will turn around. If he really loves you

  3. Chinny says:

    wel emm… is just understanding it takes for a relationship not to crumble

  4. sarah says:

    how do you be true to your self whats that mean? what does it mean to love yourself?

  5. Fancy says:

    I met a guy he loved me and l also did,but we refuse 2 admit it although he always say love quotes 2 me and calls me alot.Later on l found out dat he is getting married ,wen he called me he pretended like l was the only one loving him as in he never knew any love between me and himI’m a muslim and is allow in our religion to marry more than one wife.The truth is dat l still luv but l don’t know wats wrong he has started doing unexpected behaviours.pls is it possible for me to get him back?if yes,then how?

  6. Abubakar says:

    No jst frget it cos he‘s gone he ll only play wit ur emotions n get u hurt at d end. Its early to strt tinkin of secnd wife u hav d wrld @ ur feet.

  7. Abubakar says:

    I am in luv wit agal bt i ha v already gone fr introductn wit a different one seriously i fel trap in dis one. Dnt knw wat to do

  8. buddy says:

    baby its not dificult to stat lovin. pls if he is marid go 4 de right one. som1 did dat 2 me. sheers

  9. Ermias says:

    The first thing u do is love yourself and then others.

  10. bouqiy says:

    I love ma boyfriend so much,n its a open rlatnship, since he went back tu nigeria 4 his holidai, he dnt cals n weneva i cal him, he his only askin of ma friend… I dnt know wat tu du cos its just 5mth rlatnship

  11. snowmoonelk says:

    My partner has had a couple of phones since I have known him and now live with him. Recently I asked him who a certain person was (name was foreign, so could have been boy or girl) as I have never met this person in 5 years and the name is always transferred onto every phone he has whenever he shows it to me for some reason or another…He told me it was an ex. I said then maybe you should delete it? He said no. I told him how I felt about it and that I don’t want to see it (it happens to be the first name in his address book).. Tonight he told me I was a fucking miserable cow, pathetic, childish (how old are you???!!!) because I said I would prefer him to not keep the number on his phone of a girl he has slept with. To me it is disrespectful and unnecessary. It was the same when he used to come to my house and use my computer to log on to Ebay. He had a user name which was ILOVE(name of girlfriend inserted here) and couldn’t see why I would be upset about it! It took him 2 years to change it to ILOVE(something else he loves inserted here)! I wouldn’t do something like this if I knew it bothered him!. What gives?

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