If you’re in a relationship, there are times you’ll fight with your partner. The question is: Do you fight fair? It matters to the health of your relationship. Fighting fair is achievable when you adopt three main principles:
1. You are both entitled to have your needs met. This is a must. Even if your styles collide, you can work out a solution—and you should. Having your needs met eliminates considerable conflict. My own relationship provides a perfect example.
I have a real need for order in my living space. My husband does not. We solved this problem by designating certain rooms in the house as “mine.” They’re off limits for clutter; in fact, if he leaves something there, I can throw it away. In the rooms that are his, I can’t complain about the clutter. In the common rooms, we negotiate.
2. You should both contribute to the requirements of life (e.g., food, shelter), preferably in line with your respective strengths and interests. This does not need to be measured in terms of money. It could mean that you work while your partner stays home and cares for the children. It is essential to work this out before having kids—in a way that both you and your partner consider fair.
3. Over time, you’re both entitled to pursue your dreams and follow your interests and passions. Let’s say you want to be a standup comedian. Your partnership should not squelch the dream. However, it might affect the timing. Meeting your basic life necessities comes first. It would be unfair to quit your job to hang out at comedy clubs. The solution is to find a way to pursue comedy while still contributing.
Of course, fighting fair does not mean you can avoid all conflict. You’re bound to disagree on issues as mundane as how to train the dog. But if you approach disagreements by looking for creative solutions, you’ll go a long way.
I’m pleased to announce that I’m working on an app that will help couples understand each partner’s needs so they can minimize conflict and craft solutions. Stay tuned for updates.