How Couples Fight the Good Fight

To learn more about stable conflict types and how to avoid those hostile communication pitfalls, read HPRC’s articles about how conflict can work for couples and avoiding argument traps.

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How Couples “Fight the Good Fight”

For most couples, conflict happens. It’s unavoidable and sometimes can’t be resolved. So the way you fight with your partner is much more important than when you disagree or even what you argue about.

Each partner has her or his own conflict style. Some “hostile and unstable” partners struggle to argue effectively, and it can really hurt their relationship when they get into things. Still, “stable” partners learn to disagree—and compromise—in ways that help their relationship work.

Hostile and unstable partners

  • Communicate in hurtful or other damaging ways
  • Have many negative—and few positive—exchanges
  • Seriously consider breaking up or tend to end relationships
  • Can be aggressive or highly distant.

Traits of hostile and unstable partners

  • Criticism
  • Defensiveness
  • Contempt
  • Withdrawal

Tips to “fight the good fight” for hostile and unstable partners

  • Self-soothe with deep breathing or time-outs
  • Be accountable
  • Use “I” statements
  • Seek help from a therapist, counselor, or chaplain

Hot and heavy partners

  • Have volatile and sometimes unpredictable interactions
  • Communicate with lots of energy and feeling
  • Openly confront issues head-on even during heated arguments
  • Balance strong, negative exchanges with intense, positive ones

Traits of hot and heavy partners

  • Persuasion
  • Intensity
  • Passion
  • Chaos

Tips to “fight the good fight” for hot and heavy partners

  • Practice active listening
  • Regulate your feelings
  • Show concern
  • Slow down during conflict

Steady and supportive partners

  • Validate and understand opposing views
  • Put issues on the table and openly discuss them
  • Stay calm during conflict
  • Tend to be more even-keeled and stable

Traits of steady and supportive partners

  • Compromise
  • Cooperation
  • Respect
  • Intimacy

Tips to “fight the good fight” for steady and supportive partners

  • Build on your strengths as a couple
  • Show empathy and appreciation
  • Practice romance
  • Have fun

Cool and calm partners

  • Mostly avoid major conflicts
  • Focus on similarities rather than differences
  • Balance negative exchanges with positive ones
  • Limit emotional expression

Traits of cool and calm partners

  • Positivity
  • Harmony
  • Flexibility
  • Restraint

Tips to “fight the good fight” for cool and calm partners

  • Practice confronting intense feelings
  • Stay connected even while arguing
  • Clearly communicate your limits