Summary of The Secret to a Fight-Free Relationship

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The Secret to a Fight-Free Relationship summary

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Some couples have red-hot explosive arguments, while others prefer to bottle up their anger, allowing their rage to fester. So which approach is more beneficial to nurturing a healthy relationship? Neither, says journalist Rhaina Cohen. She promotes a technique called “scheduled disagreement,” whereby couples take note of their grievances and talk through their issues at routine intervals. This refreshing approach is applicable to romances, friendships, marriages and even business partnerships.

About the Author

Rhaina Cohen is a journalist, producer and editor for NPR’s Enterprise Storytelling unit.


A “system of scheduled disagreement” can help to manage conflict in relationships.

Conflict arises within all intimate relationships. However, you can mitigate conflict by adopting a “system of scheduled disagreement,” whereby couples avoid immediate confrontation, opting instead to take note of their grievances and talk through their issues at regular intervals, such as once a quarter. Rather than fighting over every little frustration as it occurs, couples who practice scheduled disagreement jot down their complaints and save the notes for the next meeting.

For couples who are prone to spontaneous conflict, this approach can mitigate the pain of frequent fights. For couples who tend to avoid conflict, scheduled disagreement provides a space to tease out problems before they erode the relationship.

Scheduled disagreement strategies can strengthen relationships between friends and colleagues, as well as romantic couples.

Liz Cutler and Tom Kreutz have been using the system, which they call “contract talks,” for more than 40 years. As young lovers, the fiery couple ...

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