Frequently Asked Questions
Couples' Rules for Fair Fighting
(These are drawn form Bach & Deutsch, “The Intimate Enemy”, and my own clinical experience)
1. Stay with one topic at a time: One specific issue, one specific occurrence
2. Avoid generalizations: (like, “you always”, “you never”)
3. No labeling or name calling: (“you’re lazy”, “you’re stupid”, “you are a _______”)
4. No hitting below the belt: (“You’re just like your mother”, “You never loved me”)
5. Take a time out: If you emotions are interfering with your ability to communicate rationally, call “Time Out”. When you do this, make sure you tell your partner when you will be ready to resume the discussion, and keep to that commitment.
6. No accusations: (“you’re lying”, “you don’t know what you’re talking about”)
7. Don’t make assumptions: about the intent behind your partner’s behavior— always ask and let them tell you what their intention was.
8. Do NOT make threats to leave the relationship. EVER.
9. Repeat what you hear your partner saying before responding back
10. Don’t interrupt. Wait your turn!!!
11. Strive for understanding, not agreement.
12. Presume good will.
13. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt.
14. Try expressing CURIOSITY about what your partner is feeling or saying. Be interested, NOT defensive!
15. DON'T justify your behavior by saying “You do that to me too!” If you have an issue about your partner’s behavior, bring that up at a separate time. It’s impossible to address both issues at the same time. Focus on one person at a time, please.
REMEMBER, THE ONLY MISTAKE WE CAN MAKE IN LIFE IS IN NOT RECOGNIZING WE HAVE DONE SO AND NOT DOING WHAT IT TAKES TO RECTIFY IT.