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How to Be Happy in a Relationship

        Science | Emotions

Learning to Fight Fair
Fighting with someone you love? Don't hit below the belt.
Fighting with someone you love? Don't hit below the belt.

Most people don't enjoy fighting with their partner, but at some point, somebody will say or do something that causes the other person to get upset. Fighting is a normal, healthy part of any relationship. However, fighting repeatedly over the same issues doesn't get you anywhere, and ultimately leads to more long-term unhappiness. If you can learn to fight fair, you can resolve your issues and be happier for it.

When we get angry, our natural tendency may be to tell people exactly what they've done to wrong us by using phrases like "you always" and "you never." If you want to put your partner on the defensive, this is the way to go, but that's not very productive. Instead, try using "I" statements to describe how actions or words made you feel -- like saying, "I felt hurt when you did that."

Fighting fair also means being very specific about the problem that you're having with your partner. If you're upset that he didn't take out the garbage when he said that he would, don't accuse him of never doing anything around the house. It's much easier to come up with solutions for a specific problem than a vague, all-encompassing one. Being specific also means keeping the argument about the current incident, not rehashing the past. Your partner can only do something about how you feel right now.

Although it's tempting to yell and curse to let your partner know how upset you are, your partner is more likely to listen to what you're saying and take you seriously if you remain calm. "Be clear about your intentions. Avoid "hitting below the belt" -- meaning, avoid making statements that you know will be hurtful.

Finally, think how important the issue is to you. Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? The majority of conflicts between couples -- about 80 percent according to psychologist Brad Klontz -- are unsolvable [source: MidWeek]. It's really about learning to deal with the differences. This might mean having to compromise or just "agreeing to disagree." Apologize and move on. Of course, in order to fight fair, you need to let your partner know that you're upset. Learn about the importance of speaking up next.