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Relationship Rules: Rule #2 Establish Fair Fight Rules

Relationship Rules: Rule #2 Establish Fair Fight Rules

The Relationship Rules: Rule #2 Agree Upon Fair Fighting Rules


Continuing in my series for couples, whether married couples or romantic couples who have moved past the dating selection phase into relationship building and real courtship, I want to address the topic of Fighting and Arguing.  I know.  You’re just thrilled to hear that topic of couples fighting and arguing brought up and are eager to hear more.


But wait.  Hold on just a second and trust me on this one.  I wouldn’t surface this if it weren’t important.


Relationship Rules:  What Is Fair Fighting for Couples?

Relationship Rules, Loving Couple, Romantic Couple, Couple Communication

Loving Couple Communication

What I actually want the two of you to do as a couple is to discuss, agree, commit, and establish that you two will only engage in Fair Fighting.  I’m not just talking about no below the belt punches.  I’m also talking specifically about name calling.


You must discuss, agree, commit and establish the Couples Fair Fighting Rule of No Name Calling.


Why is this one topic so incredibly important?


Relationship Rules:  Why Is The No Name Calling Fair Fighting Rule Important to Your Couple?  Because It Always Hurts

Because I don’t know a single man or woman who would when truth be told doesn’t say, “Name calling hurts.  It always hurts.”  You seriously wound each other and hurt each other when you resort to engaging in name calling.


Relationship Rules:  Why No Name Calling Fair Fighting Rule?  Because You Can Never Take It Back

There are also studies about sound and for how long and how far sound travels.  This was quoted to me and unfortunately I did not have paper and pen to write it down.  It is essentially it lasts forever.  What does that mean practically?  That you can never take it back.  If you were to stoop to engage in name calling, you can never take it back.  And at the same time, you seriously emotionally and psychologically wound and damage your partner, whom you say you love.


The last time I had roommates just before I started dating my late husband, I lived in a flat in San Francisco just below an engaged couple.  I don’t think they ever made it to the altar.  I would hear them yelling and screaming at each other and heard the names they yelled at each other.  You can’t tell me that doesn’t have an effect on you when that is uttered by the one person in the world who says they love you the most that they want to marry you and share their lives together with you.


Psychological studies demonstrate how badly this hurts and damages young children when parents resort to that behavior.  What makes us think our spouse is any different and in need of less tender loving care?  I’m not purporting that my late husband and I were perfect in this area.  However, it was one of our agreements.  Perhaps in 3.5 years together I think the rule was broken once.  To me, that’s a pretty good track record, and life happens.  This rule is a commitment and a rule.  And we are still human with room to err and mend our ways and keep growing in mutual love and intimacy.



Relationship Rules:  What Are Some Practical Tips to Stop Your Couple’s Communication Cycle of Name Calling?

What can you do?  First, please know, I do not judge you and think you are a bad person.  Maybe this is the behavior you saw modeled in your parents marriage.  You simply don’t know any better.  Or you do now know better, but you don’t know what to do instead.


Breaking Free of Name Calling Practical Tip #1

First, all of us need to have this discussion together in our couple when we are in good mood and feeling tender feelings together.  Communicate in a loving moment together.  If there is a history of this happening more than once or twice over the course of years in a relationship than you two may need to apologize to each other.  “I apologize that I used to do name calling with you.  I don’t want to do that any more.  I’m making an effort to learn to be better.  I really do love you.  Thank you for putting up with my poor behavior.”  Please notice the focus is on the behavior not that anyone is bad and the other good.


Breaking Free of Name Calling Practical Tip #2

Second, make a commitment to yourself that should the urge to blurt something out of your mouth should ever in the future arise that in that moment, no matter what, you get up, get out of the room, and get away from your partner.  You might need to lock yourself in the bathroom for 10 minutes.  You might need to take a 10 minutes walk outside around the neighborhood.


Studies demonstrate that typically and compulsive urge lasts literally only a few minutes.  Establishing  habit that prevents you from saying something you will regret and stretching the time between the urge and what you say next is a powerful tool to support the loving communication of your couple.  If anger and rage are a problem and challenge for you, ping me.  I work with clients to release and reduce that chronic rage so they can instead be the loving partner they want to be and could be.  Your couple is worth it.


Happy Dating and Relationships!

April Braswell

As seen in Dating for Dummies, 3rd Edition

April Braswell speaks to singles in Singles Groups and Divorce Recovery Groups as well as at Singles Dating Workshops and Singles Conferences.  Hire April to speak at your Singles Event?

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Body language of flirting January 10, 2012, 10:40 PM

    April, these are all fantastic items not just for dating but also for existing relationships.
    Scott Sylvan Bell
    body language of winking
    Now go implement!

  • Sonya Lenzo January 11, 2012, 4:35 AM

    You can’t take back what you say in anger.And these words can linger forever in the heart of your loved one.This is one time where self editing is very important!
    Sonya Lenzo

  • Peggy Larson January 11, 2012, 7:45 AM

    How very true about words. That old saying “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me” is so very very wrong. Bones can mend but words (especially the bad ones) can ring in a person’s ears forever.

    Great advice on how to break the cycle and/or the habit of name calling.


  • What is Respect January 13, 2012, 6:54 AM

    Excellent advice April. Name calling starts when one party feels disrespected. They’ve lost the argument based on logic, and they feel they are out of weapons to use. So they turn to name-calling. It is a powerful weapon as you mention, because the intention is to embarrass the other party. Embarrassment is the most powerful emotion there is, because as Peggy Larson said, it lasts FOREVER.

    We need to learn how to be more persuasive when we have discussions so that we don’t have to pull out the nuclear weapon of Name-calling. It is devastating, and ruins the entire landscape. I recommend people read your blog to learn how to be more persuasive to create a win-win situation for both sides of the argument.

    Tim Van Milligan

  • Eva Palmer January 13, 2012, 2:15 PM

    Hi April!
    When in a figth it is so easy to forget how important your partner is. I think your post is a good reminding for having in mind how important it is to always make your best.
    Thanks for the tips for not only explaining how to prevent it but also how to make peace when name calling happens.

    Hipnoterapia Barcelona

  • Clare Delaney January 14, 2012, 7:29 PM

    April, thanks for a really great blog, and I particularly like the practical tips for couples!

    EcoFriendly Matters @ EcoFriendly Link
    Should we really bother being eco friendly?

  • Marti June 21, 2014, 10:43 AM

    Learning how to disagree makes so much sense for couples to learn how to do. Love it. They never talk like this on tv shows.

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