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Fair Fighting Rules

Couples who are struggling with toxic arguments often have a number of harmful habits. They might yell, use personal attacks, stonewall, fail to express their feelings with words, or one of many other pitfalls. These behaviors can turn benign disagreements into heated arguments.

The Fair Fighting Rules handout describes the "rules of engagement" when it comes to disagreements. Instead of telling us we can't argue, fair fighting rules tell us how to do it safely and productively.

Use this handout to teach couples boundaries, warning signs, and techniques for handling disagreements. We suggest accompanying this handout with in-session practice, role-playing, and discussion of which techniques will be most helpful for a particular couple.

Also, check out our video on fair fighting rules:

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1. P. Greeff, Tanya De Bruyne, A. (2000). Conflict management style and marital satisfaction. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 26(4), 321-334.

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