What's Your Fighting Style?

Almost all couples fight. Indeed, arguments can be very productive for relationships—they often resolve issues, solve problems, and bring simmering irritants to the surface so they can be dealt with. So whether it’s the occasional bickering or a full-out scream fest, knowing your and your partner’s fighting style is the first step to finding better ways to get along, the key is knowing how to fight. Read on to identify your own and your partner’s fighting styles, and learn what it will take to improve your relationship.

Low-Level Provokers

Fightinhg Type: Low-Level Provoker

From the outset, “Low-level Provokers” try to keep up the appearance they are having a rational discussion—but watch out for those little arrows they unleash that are loaded with sarcasm and a slight hint of aggression. This approach can have ripple effects: Researchers at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana found that some kids of couples who engaged in “dirty fighting” (where anger was expressed through a hostile tone or with a rolling of the eyes) suffered emotional insecurity.

That’s my partner

You and your partner are having what seems to be a reasonable discussion, and then he or she says something, wrapped in a smile, that hurts a little. “Low-level Provokers” rarely lay it all out, but often leave you with the feeling in your gut that something isn’t quite right. Karen Hirscheimer, a Toronto-based couples therapist, suggests holding them accountable for what they say. “Try saying, ‘I’m feeling some discomfort about what you just said. Can you say it in a nicer way?’” she suggests. “What you’re demonstrating is that you have a standard around communication and discussions, and you want to give them a chance to participate without feeling threatened.”

That's Me

Realise that sending mixed messages to your partner is unfair. Acknowledge that you are annoyed, and be upfront with your partner about what is bothering you.