Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Fighting fair in marriage

Carolyn Hax on

Short version: Fighting fair means discussing the area of disagreement versus attacking the person you disagree with. "You always ... "; "You never ... "; "There you go again ... "; "What are you, stupid?"-type attacks are anathema to intimacy. Here's the link to Gottman's site: https://www.gottman.com. Harriet Lerner's "Dance" series also is well respected: http://www.harrietlerner.com/books.

Re: Fair Fighting:

Do you think political parties could take a few lessons on fighting fair?

-- Timely

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahaha. Ha.

[Cough.]

Yes.

Dear Carolyn:

Do you think some of your questions are fake? I've gotten that vibe a couple times. I didn't really mind, though, because even if I thought the question was fake I also felt it raised an issue that really could come up for people, and you answered it well.

-- Real Question

Thank you. I think it's impossible that I've done this for 20 years without publishing any fakes. I decided a long time ago not to worry about it -- in part because I can't prevent it, but also because, like you said, if it brings up an issue that's relevant to some people, then it doesn't matter where the question came from.

Funny thing -- sometimes I do suspect I'm reading a fake because someone's fiercely held position just seems too out-there to be real, but I answer it anyway because it's compelling in some way or because it comes up in a chat and the time pressure means I don't get to be as picky. Then, boom, I get a wave of people defending the "out-there" position just as fiercely as the original writer, if not more so.

For example, this restaurant question (http://bit.ly/BadTipper) seemed suspect. I answered anyway, and outrage letters poured in defending the letter-writer's behavior as perfectly acceptable. (No, it wasn't.) After years of this, it's rare I see anything as too awful for at least some people to defend. [Cough.]

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Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.

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