Fight Fairly: Ask Noah

06/19/2013 11:57 am ET

NEW YORK -- Q: I hear people often say that it's normal and healthy for a couple to argue. If this is the case my wife and I are the most normal people you'll ever meet.

So here's my question: What do you think is the healthiest way to fight with your spouse?

A: Follow your own set of rules and fight fair.

I believe in fighting about the present, not the past. If something happened 10 years ago, there's little that can be done about it now. Consistently dredging up bad memories creates a cycle of blame and regret that isn't helpful to any marriage.

The security marriage provides doesn't give you a blank check to hurl insults at one another without regard for individual sensitivities. We all know our spouses' insecurities, and picking on them does nothing to strengthen relationships. Name-calling is painful, abusive, a total waste of time and ultimately defines "unproductive" fighting.

Allow your spouse to make her case. Do not interrupt before she finishes speaking. Listen and respond after she has completed her point. Do not assume you can predict what she is going to say. Healthy fighting provides both parties the opportunity to have their passionate voices heard and mandates two strong listeners.

Timing is vital, so pick your battles appropriately. Remember, you need to leave time to fight well and it shouldn't be done on the fly.

Examples of poorly-timed fights would be big talks early in the morning before work or late at night when you're exhausted. If you want your arguments to be productive, you'll need to control your impulses. Try your best not to blurt out whatever is on your mind whenever you feel like it.

Healthy fighting between spouses keeps relationships honest. If we suppress our opinions, if we cannot sufficiently communicate anger towards our spouse, all resentments become overwhelming and intimacy suffers.

Speak with respect and have a clear understanding of appropriate limitations and boundaries, and healthy fighting can be absolutely productive!

Thank you for the excellent question.

Please send questions and comments to ASK NOAH at

Have a profitable and peaceful week,


This post originally appeared on TheStreet.

For more by Noah Kass, click here.

For more on emotional intelligence, click here.