5 Ways To Fight Like You Love Them — A Therapist Describes How Strong Couples Argue

If you fight right, disagreements can actually strengthen your relationship, says Dr. Stan Tatkin.

couple fighting Anetlanda / Getty Images and Peopleimages.com / YuriArcurs via Canva 

In the realm of romantic relationships, most people would agree that fighting is undesirable. After all, who wants to be at odds with their partner or engage in heated disputes regularly?

But, what if I told you healthy relationships can indeed involve arguments —  that it's not only normal but also encouraged?

That's right! Disagreements can actually strengthen the bond between couples — if you fight the right way.


RELATED: 10 Most Common Need-To-Win Fighting Styles That Destroy Relationships

Fighting is actually healthy in a relationship — not kidding. 

Of course, you and your partner shouldn't be at each other's throats 24/7 or throwing fists every time you disagree. No.


That said, arguments in relationships are not only healthy but encouraged. Fighting in the right way (i.e. fighting with love) is a way to strengthen your bonds and bring your relationship to the next level.

How The Strongest Couples Fight

1. Strong couples fight friendly.

It might sound odd, but the strongest couples don't view arguments as battles to be won. Instead, they see them as opportunities for growth and understanding.


They engage in what could be described as "friendly fights" according to renowned psychotherapist and relationship expert Dr. Stan Tatkin.

These couples prioritize maintaining respect and empathy for their partners even during heated discussions. They remember that their goal is to resolve the issue, not to harm the relationship.

Fighting friendly means that even when disagreements occur, there's a foundation of love and care that underpins the entire conflict. This ensures that no matter how intense the argument may get, the relationship remains intact.

Tatkin recommends these actions for "friendly fights":

  1. Acknowledge what was said, and reinforce positivity.

"I know you feel that I don't appreciate you. I love what you do."


  2. Give examples and explain.

"I love what you do for the house, for the kids, for myself, you're wonderful."

  3. Take a beat.

  4. Then, address the issue.

"But what bothers me is..."

2. Strong couples take a beat.

The key to effective conflict resolution is not to rush through arguments. Strong couples understand that taking it slow is vital. Instead of impulsively reacting to their partner's statements, they pause, breathe, and think before responding. This measured approach helps them avoid saying hurtful things in the heat of the moment.

Taking it slow also allows both partners to better understand each other's perspectives. By giving each other time and space to express their thoughts and feelings, they can arrive at a more nuanced and thoughtful resolution.


As Tatkin often incorporates in his sessions, "Take a beat."

3. Strong couples maintain eye contact.

Maintaining eye contact during a disagreement is a powerful practice that strong couples often use. Doing this ensures that both partners are fully engaged in the conversation, and actively listening to one another.

Eye contact conveys a sense of connection and respect, reinforcing the idea that despite conflict, love and connection between them are unwavering and always there.

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4. Strong couples can hear each other out in 5 minutes.

Tatkin recommends couples use a technique known as the "5-Minute Argument Practice." This technique involves setting a timer and allowing each partner to express their feelings, thoughts, and concerns for a predetermined five minutes without interruption.


The beauty of this practice is that it ensures that both partners have an equal opportunity to be heard. It also prevents arguments from spiraling into long, emotionally exhausting conflicts. By implementing this practice, couples keep their disagreements focused and productive, without allowing them to escalate into something more destructive.

5. Strong couples focus their arguments on one topic at a time.

One of the most common pitfalls in arguments is the tendency to bring up past grievances or unrelated issues. This can cause your partner to immediately go into defense mode since they will feel threatened or attacked.

Strong couples recognize the importance of sticking to the topic at hand. By focusing on one issue at a time, they can thoroughly address and resolve it before moving on to the next. This skill prevents arguments from becoming overly complicated and emotionally charged.

It also helps both partners to feel heard and understood in a more efficient manner.


RELATED: The 6 Types Of (Healthy) Fights Every Long-Lasting Relationship Must Have To Survive

Deauna Roane is a writer and the Editorial Project Manager for YourTango. She's had bylines in Emerson College's literary magazine, Generic, and MSN.