53: How Fair Fighting Can Save Your Relationship

We all disagree with our partner at some point. Disagreements are normal and healthy, but how we disagree is a foundational component of our relationships.  In this episode, Nikki Young, LMFT, and Alyssa Najera, LCSW, discuss the importance of communicating respectfully and effectively by using fair fighting or as we call it, Kosher Conflict.  

In this episode we talk about:

Types of problems within a relationship:

  • Solvable problems: issues that are situational or can be perceived as one-off type of conflict.
  • Unsolvable problems: Issues that stay consistent and in 15 years from now it will still be a problem.

What makes a difference in a disagreement is how you choose to engage, response, and recognize your own personal triggers.

Why should I practice Fair Fighting and Kosher Conflict?

  • It is important to understand that when our stress levels go up, our communication skills go down. We tend to make ourselves more vulnerable with people we trust which may result in giving our poorest level of communication
  • When fighting around children, they pick up on certain mannerisms and communication skills. It is important to model how your child should discuss issues and be treated during conflict with a partner.
  • Practicing Kosher conflict can provide you and your partner resolution, understanding, and increased emotional and physical intimacy.

How do I practice Fair Fighting and Kosher Conflict?

  • Understand what triggers your fight, flight, or freeze response and choose to respond instead of react in a disagreement
    • Your cool down or timeout periods can range from 5 minutes to 5 hours, it will vary
  • After your timeout, come back to the topic and discuss the issue at hand effectively
    • It is important to come back to the topic or the other person may feel abandoned in the situation.
  • Notice your partner can usually recognize when you might be getting worked up
    • ‘We’ve been married for 10 years and … the other day he told me, “Okay, I’m going to end this conversation because your nose is flaring and you keep blinking at me”’- Alyssa Najera, LCSW

How should I communicate?

  • Avoid criticizing the other person and use “I” statements vs “you” statements. This prevents the other person from feeling blamed and causing their defense walls to go up.
    • “I feel unheard. I would appreciate if I could share what I’m trying to share, it would make me feel heard.” – Nikki Young, LMFC
    • “I’m feeling unheard. Here’s what I need…”
    • “I feel unheard, if I’m able to share what I want to share it will make me feel heard”
  • Avoid name calling or yelling
  • Discuss your partner’s boundaries and needs
    • Many couples use humor to defuse situations while other couples may take humor as the conversation not being taken seriously
  • Remember, Kosher conflict is not a natural way to communicate and takes effort.
  • Avoid spiraling the topic into other topics

Therapists Uncut Challenge:

If you have a partner, watch this episode together and discuss how you both can effectively practice fair fighting in the future.

Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together any resources mentioned in this episode and put together some links:



Thank you for allowing us into your lives and helping us make mental health more relatable and a part of your everyday conversation! For more resourced or to access all episodes visit TherapistsUncut.com.

What is the Therapists Uncut Podcast:

The Therapists Uncut Podcast is a light-hearted, informative self-help podcast for grown-ups. It is hosted by three off-the-clock therapists hoping to validate your experiences, normalize therapy and therapists, and help you prioritize your mental health.

Who are the Therapists Uncut Podcast Co-Hosts:

Nikki Young is co-host of Therapists Uncut and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. Nikki keeps it personable and professional. Yet, she always manages to keep the Therapists Uncut family and followers laughing. You may find her squirreling through topics, stories, or jokes, and all in good fun. Don’t worry because someone will bring her back around to the conversation. Nikki is a licensed marriage and family therapist in her private practice located in Modesto, CA, and she is also a Crisis Junkie at heart. In addition to being co-owner of a group private practice, she is also a crisis clinician responding to local mental health crisis and emergencies. Learn more about Nikki at catalystcounselinginc.com

Alyssa Najera is co-host of Therapists Uncut and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Alyssa is typically calm and composed on most days, but often has difficulty containing her excitement about the little things in life. She loves to laugh, spread positivity, and is often caught with a smile on her face. Alyssa is also a Child Welfare Services social worker and supervisor alumni, previous child sexual abuse forensic interviewer, trainer and consultant, and CEO of a group private practice in the small town of Oakdale, CA. Learn more about Alyssa at smalltowncounselingca.com or alyssanajera.com.


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Voice Over by Alexia Gloria