Learn to fight fair or else...

Learn to Fight Fair or Else: How One Couple Prevented Divorce by Getting on the Couch with Dr. Cheryl

You’re returning home from a long workday and you notice it: your sweetheart forgot to put out the trash again! Now that stinky mess is gonna sit around for two MORE weeks. What’s your first reaction? Are you pissed off, remembering every time your partner has failed to keep a promise? Or…are you annoyed at their absentmindedness, yet you understand and forgive the simple mistake? Your answer here is VERY important. Why? Because your reaction to relationship disappointment is integral to your relationship. It’s never just about the trash. It’s about whether you are going to stay together or break up.

You may be thinking, “Gee whiz, Dr. Cheryl, that’s a lot of doom and gloom over something so trivial!” But here’s the thing: your reaction to problems with your honey— your default fighting style—has a major effect on the future of your union, whether you realize it or not. Yup – how you fight can predict destruction, despair, and divorce.

Welcome to episode four of my “On the Couch with Dr. Cheryl” series. This fall, my podcast episodes focus on the Passion Triangle. I’m featuring real-life couples from my Become Passion—Create Love That Lasts a Lifetime program, a 1-week online immersion couples program. In this exclusive small group course, I give you and your sweetheart the real-world tools needed to fight fair, cut out the condescension and ugliness, and learn how to have meaningful, productive arguments instead of nasty fights. And I coach you live every week and answer YOUR questions, too.

In this episode, we meet Julio and Jen, a couple in their 40s that I had the pleasure of teaching in my Become Passion program. Like most couples I coach, these two were in serious need of a change in their fighting style. I talked to them about the wealth of research that demonstrates that certain fighting styles can predict divorce up to 90% of the time… and the steps Jen and Julio had to take to avoid being part of that sad statistic. There are four killer behaviors that feed into that toxic fighting style, and I teach you not only how to identify them, but also how to eradicate them from your relationship. It’s not about how much you fight—or even if it’s loud, passionate, angry, and emotional. It’s how you fight that matters.

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • Great couples fight. Great couples disagree. Exceptionally happy couples have arguments. Not agreeing with your honey 100% of the time is a completely healthy and normal part of any relationship.  (06:34)
  • How Julio and Jen, a real-life couple in my Become Passion course, had no conflict resolution skills. Their killer fighting style put them in serious jeopardy of splitting up …luckily, they turned to me first. (07:27)
  • What happens when you become “flooded”—AKA that heart racing, extreme anxiety, all-encompassing anger feeling—and how the fight or flight response affects your arguing style. (09:33)
  • The Four Horsemen of the (relationship!) Apocalypse: personal criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt. (16:12)  
  • Why contempt is the most damaging and the most dangerous fighting style in any relationship – and how to stop it. (24:39)
  • Even if you’ve recognized some or all of these fighting styles in your relationship, there’s still room to learn, grow, and build back a better one.  (29:49)
  • Your weekly LoveByte. (33:10)


  • My partner and I fight all the time, does this mean we’re in trouble? Every couple fights. Disagreements are perfectly natural and normal. To decide if you are in trouble, you need to look at what those fights look like. If you and your partner fight dirty – you hurl personal insults, act in a passive-aggressive manner, or just plain shut down, it’s definitely time to change the way you argue. These fighting styles can end your relationship unless you change them.
  • Is it a problem that I often find myself condescending to my partner when we fight? Contempt, or criticizing in a highly superior way and acting with disgust, is the most toxic style of fighting in any relationship. This nasty fighting style can destroy relationships if you’re not mindful of it. First, own it. Then, work hard to stop behaving in this way. 
  • What can I do if my partner and I are always fighting? The most important step to changing any relationship is to identify and accept the problems you are having. If you are constantly fighting with your sweetheart, assess your fighting style and learn whether your arguments are fair…or toxic… Criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling, and contempt are all extremely damaging ways of fighting. 

Resources mentioned:

Sign up here for the waitlist to the Become Passion—Create Love That Lasts a Lifetime online immersion couples program with Dr. Cheryl. Be the first to know when the doors open and get some special bonuses.

See what couples—and Jack Canfield—have to say about Dr. Cheryl’s Become Passion couples program HERE

Let’s Connect!

Are you in love the way you used to be?

Let me help with free tips to create the happy, passionate relationship you desire.