The Fight Fair Contract

Published on October 9, 2013

couple arguing in front of a childCouples commonly engage in arguments throughout the course of their relationship. Whether it's about sharing the household chores, forgetting to get the groceries or even where to go on a holiday. However, fights over small issues can sometimes snowball into something more menancing if the argument is handled poorly by either party. What can couples do to make sure that they handle arguements in a way that does not bring irreparable harm to the relationship?

This is where "The Fight Fair Contract" comes into the picture. Both parties should agree to, and abide by the rules set out in the contract to remind themselves how to behave in an argument and when they should stop .

Rule 1: I will arrange an appropriate time with my mate to have a discussion; a time where both of us are feeling fresh and relaxed. I will not start a difficult discussion when either of us are too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT).

Rule 2: I will think before I speak or act . Before starting to discuss a difficulty in the relationship I will ask myself “How important is it”. We all know that the vast majority of such difficulties are over something that is trivial!

Rule 3: I will use a softened start up and not a critical attack on my mate.

Rule 4: I will make no dramatic exits.

Rule 5: I will be respectful of my partner

Rule 6: I will listen carefully

Rule 7: I will use “I” statements not “you” statements to avoid blaming and generalizing

Rule 8: I will keep personalities out of it. I will deal with behaviors only.

Rule 9: I will keep my statements short

Rule 10: I will stick to the current issue or problem, I will not bring up baggage from the past

Rule 11: I will constantly remember that my objective is to come to a mutually acceptable solution

Rule 12: When confronted unexpectedly, or if my emotional reaction becomes too strong, I will use emotional regulation strategies such as:

                 • Stop, Breathe Deeply, Reflect
                 • Positive self talk e.g. “I can handle this"
                 • Time-out procedure.

You can download the full contract in PDF format here.

This contract is not just useful for couples, it is also applicable to people that you work with or other family members. The next time when you get into a heated argument with someone, remember the rules and you will increase your chances of coming out of the fight with a stronger relationship.

Category(s):Relationships & Marriage

Written by:

Brian Scott

Dr. Scott is a clinical psychologist based in Singapore with three decades of counseling and psychotherapy experience in helping adults with many kinds of psychological difficulties. These include anxiety, depression, addictions (cybersex, love), and Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (Adult ADHD).

Brian Scott belongs to Scott Psychological Centre in Singapore

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