A Couple’s Guide to
15 Common Fights,
What They Really Mean
& How They Can
Bring You Closer

We’re so pleased to announce the release of our new book, “The Heart of the Fight.” In the book, Judith Wright and I draw on our many years of experience, both in our own relationship (which I can tell you has quite a bit of conflict once in a while) and in the relationships of many of the couples we’ve worked with over the years.


We’ll talk about the beauty and the messiness of love. Believe me when I say: love is a lot of both. Many people have these notions that love is always going to be like it is in the movies. The reality is sometimes love is more about the knock-down, drag-out, emotional upheaval that ultimately serves as a platform for growth.

Love is both a womb that nourishes and a crucible that forges us into what we can become. It’s nourishing, but it’s also intense and deep, and the best love puts you through a lot of tests so you can come out stronger.

Conflict is Good…Really!

We’ve been raised with this idea that conflict is bad. Arguing and fighting must mean something is wrong, as in: “We’re always fighting. We just don’t get along.”

We hear it time and time again. Truth is, couples who are engaged with each other (those who go “all in”) will experience conflict. It’s inevitable. It’s a struggle over your yearnings and meeting the yearnings of the other person. It’s a struggle to be seen openly and honestly for who you are and to have the other person know you, accept you, challenge you, and bring out your best.

I worry much more about the couples who say they never fight.

If a couple cares for one another and cares about working toward common goals, they will experience conflict. Conflict means you feel. As for those couples that “never fight”? Chances are they’re just going through the motions. They’re “over” engaging with each other and working together. Maybe they’ve even given up.

It’s time to get back in the fight. By learning the rules of engagement, couples can learn to fight fairly and productively. They can learn how to work toward (and fight for) the relationship.

The 7 Rules of Engagement: Fight, Don’t War


the heart of the fight rules of engagement


The first two rules: Accentuate the positive and Minimize the negative. This doesn’t mean just blowing smoke or trying to pretend everything’s fine when it’s not. Often when we’re really angry at our partner, we get in this mode of believing that absolutely everything has gone to hell. If we step back and look at the positive aspects of our relationship (the way our partner nurtures us, the good parts, and the fun times) and minimize the negative things (the way your partner balls his socks up on the bedroom floor), we can gain a little perspective.

Next rule: No one gets more than 50% of the blame. How easy is it to blame everything on the other person? For example: “Well, I tried to say how I felt, but she didn’t listen, and now it’s all her fault…” Nope. It’s so easy to become the victim of our partner’s behavior, which causes us to fall into the drama triangle. Just like EVERYTHING isn’t entirely your fault, everything isn’t your partner’s fault either.

On the same note, the next rule is another one we’ve mentioned a few times: You are 100% responsible for your own happiness and satisfaction. It isn’t your partner’s job to rescue you or make you happy. It’s your responsibility to work toward your own happiness and it’s your partner’s responsibility to work toward theirs.

Rule #5: Express and agree with the truth, always. The truth might not be what you want to hear. In fact, the truth might be, “You’re really pissing me off right now.” This rule is about expressing the truth and being honest about what you’re feeling. When something is wrong, it’s so easy to say, “It’s fine,” and then spend the rest of the day shutting down and withholding. It’s much more difficult to express what you’re feeling. The truth is hard. The truth makes us vulnerable, and we don’t always like to be vulnerable. You must be trustworthy in your relationship.

Likewise, always Fight FOR (not against) the relationship. When a couple is working toward the relationship, it shifts the approach. You’re fighting to get on the same page. You’re fighting to make the relationship work. You’re fighting to be with each other.

The last rule: Assume good will. In all my years of meeting with couples, I’ve met very few who are actually “out to get” each other. Chances are very likely your partner doesn’t exist just to make you mad and they don’t go through their day scheming ways to make you miserable. Often in the tit-for-tat war couples engage in, a feeling of paranoia starts to build. Assuming good will helps you realize that, at heart, your partner probably wants what you want: to make things work and to learn, engage, and grow together.

As we explore these rules of engagement and get to The Heart of the Fight, we’ll also look at key skills for transformational change and consciously engaging in your transformation. You’ll start to invest in your heart and soul and in the heart and soul of your partner to keep your relationship going strong.

Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio.
Check Out Lifestyle Podcasts at BlogTalkRadio with Wright Living on BlogTalkRadio.


About the Author

Bob-300x250-1

Dr. Bob Wright is an internationally recognized visionary, educator, program developer, leadership and sales executive, best-selling author and speaker. He is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Always Fighting?
Conflict is Common,
But Fight Fair

Whenever we hear someone say, “Oh, we never fight,” it always raises a few red flags. If you’re really engaging with another person, there’s going to be conflict!


Things are never going to be perfect.

Dating and relationships can reveal so many “a-ha!” moments. After all, dating is a great opportunity to learn new things about yourself and the ways you set boundaries as you engage in (or shy away from) conflict. When you go out with someone, are you panicking at the first sign of conflict? What about when you’ve reached a make-or-break moment in the relationship? Do you commit to holding your ground, or do you backslide after a few weeks and assume more than your share of the blame?

Many of us have a very difficult time with conflict—understandably, of course. We all have limiting beliefs that are comprised of sets of preconceived values, perceptions and ways of dealing with others which shape our relationships. We may catch ourselves avoiding unpleasant emotions (like hurt, sadness, fear, or anger) because they’re uncomfortable for us. However, even when our emotions make us uncomfortable, that doesn’t always need to be a negative thing.

Our emotions, even if they’re unpleasant, can be great tools for growth, as they can help us understand ourselves on a deeper level.

Assuming Fault or Passing Blame?

Often, many of us have a tendency to want to assume everything is our fault—OR to assume any disagreement is ALL the fault of the other person. When a relationship ends or when things aren’t going well, it’s usually not just because of one thing we’ve done or said; it’s really about the bigger picture and the roles each of us play within the relationship. What yearnings were expressed and met, and what yearnings were held back out of fear?

When conflict arises in your relationship, there’s a set of rules to help you and your date or partner fight fair. In our new book, The Heart of the Fight, we discuss these rules of engagement. For example, did you know that everyone is responsible for their own emotions? Here’s another great one from the book: no one takes more than 50% of the blame.

When dating, you have this great opportunity to “play” with all of these rules of engagement and really feel them out. You can meet someone and in the first few sentences you might have an immediate connection…or you might have to work to find the connection. Neither way is wrong and both give you a chance to learn new and exciting things about yourself, about another person, and about conflict.

Fighting More Frequently? Stay True to Yourself

Once you’ve been on a few dates, you might find that conflicts arise more freely. This is something to be celebrated rather than feared! When you’ve reached the point that you’re comfortable enough to be honest with yourself and tell your date how you feel, it’s a great moment in your personal growth.

Some of us find we go into a relationship ready to debate, engage in conflict, and discuss things open and honestly—but we hold back on building the emotional and softer side of our connection. It’s still a question of whether or not you’re fully engaged. Again, neither approach is wrong, but the challenge is in how you can continue to express your truth. Are you being you?

Emotions and connections make us vulnerable, which can be frightening. When we’re putting our real selves out there and being open and honest, we’re in a place where we may be rejected or hurt. And let’s face it, that doesn’t feel good. The real joy is when you can look at the situation and no matter the outcome (whether it was a great connection or a not-so-great connection) you can say you were 100% honest about who you were throughout. That’s the awakening.

When Relationships End

If you just can’t reach a give-and-take point or if you feel stagnant in your personal growth, it might be time to move on. If you feel you’re being honest and engaging with the other person but it’s just not there on a fundamental level, it can be difficult.

Breakups never feel good. They leave us questioning our actions, and wondering if we were too reactive or if we were really honest in what we wanted. We question if we held back our emotions due to fear or anger. We can question everything about ourselves.

The great news is a breakup is a great time to reevaluate and lean on your friendships and support system. It can give you a chance to work through growth and even find an eventual way to get back to sharing a friendship after a cooling-off period (assuming you WANT to continue a connection and found the friendship nourishing).

Breakups aren’t fun, but they give us a chance to sort out what we want and how we can better express our desires and yearnings. They allow us to examine the interaction, and we can rest easy knowing we were fully engaged, we didn’t shy away from conflict, and we approached the relationship with honesty and openness.

Dating and relationships can be fraught with opportunities for both awakenings and disturbances, but both can be moments of beauty and growth.

Listen to this episode here on BlogTalkRadio.
Check Out Lifestyle Podcasts at BlogTalkRadio with Wright Living on BlogTalkRadio.

Join us every two weeks on Wednesdays at noon CST for our podcast Bring Out Your Best! where we discuss dating, relationships and being your best self. To continue the conversation on engaging with others and to discover ways to bring out your best self, click here to learn more about our next More Life Training.


About the Author

Dr. Judith Wright

Dr Judith Wright is a media favorite, sought-after inspirational speaker, respected leader, peerless educator, bestselling author, & world-class coach. She is a co-founder of Wright and the Wright Graduate University.


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Blog post image courtesy: Flickr user prendio2.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.