Fighting can be good for a relationship, if you know how to fight fairly

All couples argue.

And, licensed professional counselor Natolie Gray of InPowerment Counseling and Consulting in Lawrenceville teaches couples how to fight more effectively and fairly.

When we fight in conversations, we’re fighting to be heard, but we’re not fighting to understand," Gray says. "We fight unfair by hitting under the belt. We fight unfair when we are silent."

And, Gray says, we often fight to win.

"The challenge, though, in a relationship is what do you win?" Gray asks. "Who wins? What does winning mean? Do we get a trophy? Do we get an award? Like, when we put it in perspective, you’re not winning anything."

Gray helps clients rethink how they fight.

The next time you argue, she says, step back and listen.

"Because, typically when we’re fighting, we’re not listening," Gray says. "We are actually listening to defend, we’re listening to respond, or we’re listening to fix. But, when you slow down and say, ‘I want to listen to understand,’ you’re tuning in and listening, not adding to what they’re saying, because that’s also the challenge, not taking away anything that they’re saying and being able to say."

Next, Gray says, try repeating back what your partner is saying.

"(Say) ‘I heard you say this,’ and repeat it, and that sometimes is hard because then they’ll say, ‘But, that means I’m agreeing to it!’ It does it. It means I’m listening. And then you check in and say, ‘Did I get it all?’ Most couples are like, ‘Okay, this is not how I typically talk to my partner,’ but when they do it, I’ve seen so many beautiful things happen."

If the argument is escalating, Gray says, hit pause and ask if you can come to the conversation at a later point.

"That may sound like, ‘I understand that this is very important to you, and I want to address it,’" Gray says. "Because sometimes the partner feels like you’re just not wanting to do it. But try, ‘Right now isn’t the best time, or I’m not sure if this is the best way for us to do it. Can we talk about this before bed? Can we talk about this in the morning? You’re now giving your partner something that they can work with."

Gray says follow up on your promise to talk once you have both calmed down.