Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Fair Fighting in Couple Therapy

  • Dara WinleyEmail author
  • Elizabeth Adedokun
  • Jessica Chou
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_592


Conflict is inevitable in couple relationships and the ability to do it in a healthy way can yield desired resolution for the partnership (Gurman et al. 2015).

Theoretical Context for Concept

A crucial element to fair fighting is the ability to communicate among partners. Oftentimes, when conflict begins among a couple each person spends time attempting to prove their partner wrong (Gottman et al. 1995). Markman et al. (1998) have identified a framework that carves out clear roles for the speaker, listener, and partnership in working toward managing conflict. The focus of the speaker-listener framework is to utilize techniques that harness skills to speak to each other in a meaningful and fair way that creates space for fair fighting.


Fair fighting includes active listening, gaining perspective, awareness of thoughts/words and body language, and taking a time out (Gottman et al. 1995). Unfair fighting consists of manipulation, abuse, name-calling, avoidance...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Drexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Rachel M. Diamond
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Saint JosephWest HartfordUSA