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Book Summary: Love More, Fight Less – Communication Skills Every Couple Needs

Love More Fight Less provides straightforward directions on how to develop communication skills that will help you and your partner handle conflict. Various activities let you practice the skills, and this summary details how to use these communication techniques in real-life situations.

Improve your communication skills and your relationship.

All couples have conflicts. But only a few of them are equipped with the communication skills to effectively and lovingly support each other during those tough times.

The truth is, some of us never learned effective communication habits. And if we did, even skilled communicators can still struggle with it in their most intimate relationships. No matter what kind of couple you are – married, dating, complicated, straight, gay, lesbian, high-conflict, low-conflict, whatever – this Blink will show you new communication techniques and even refresh some old ones in order to improve your relationship.

Senarighi’s book details 30 skills and shows how to use them in 29 different scenarios. In this summary, we will focus on issues in three of the most common trouble areas for couples – sex, money, and in-laws. In the process, we will learn about more than 10 communication skills and how to develop them.

So, with that, let’s get started!

Book Summary: Love More, Fight Less - Communication Skills Every Couple Needs

Tips for Success and Self-Awareness

Before diving deep into issues about sex and money and the skills needed to solve them, here are a few quick tips to start us off.

First, it’s important to remember that in order to learn new communication skills and effectively implement them in your relationship, both partners have to be committed to the process and willing to make some changes. Even though this summary is meant to be consumed quickly, the work needed to develop and use the new learned skills will take time. It will require practice and patience.

Next, avoiding limiting judgments will also help you get the most out of this material. For example, it may seem like you and your partner have already tried using one of these techniques, but it didn’t work. Or maybe you can’t believe the solution can be so simple. But even if you’ve tried something once, you might be in a better place to make it work now. And having a skill doesn’t mean you can’t learn more nuances. Even the simplest skills in the smallest of moments can make the biggest difference in our most important relationships.

Finally, while dealing with sensitive issues it’s crucial always to make sure to preemptively recognize and then actively calm any distress. People get upset during conflict. It’s unavoidable. Reactions range from shouting in anger to totally shutting down. The good news is, we can feel that distress in our bodies and use that signal to interrupt it before our emotions sabotage any possible resolution. To do this, draw or write out a recent situation in which you felt upset. As you’re reliving this scenario, make a note about where in your body you felt tense, sweaty, or any other physical discomfort to help you recognize distress. The next time you feel that discomfort coming on, take a break to calm this distress. Soothe yourself by closing your eyes and breathing slowly, walking outside, journaling, or whatever else calms you. And be compassionate with yourself. You are not your emotions. Take time to calm down, then revisit the issue with your partner.

Talking about Sex

Let’s start this section off with an example.

Andrew and Megan are thriving in a lot of ways. They both earned promotions within the last year, and they just closed on a house in their dream neighborhood. They’ve been together for five years and remain great friends, but Megan’s sex drive has slowed down since her promotion and the increase in responsibilities and hours. The couple thought things might return to normal after a few months, but nothing has changed, and Andrew is getting frustrated that his romantic efforts have been seemingly ignored.

This is a common issue, and every couple will have ups and downs in their sex lives. It’s also a sensitive topic, so the first tip to remember is one we discussed in the previous section – recognizing distress and calming distress.

After you’ve taken the time to calm down, revisit the issue with your partner and try to start the conversation by using our first skill: stating emotional intentions. As the initiating partner, you can do this by making it clear what you’re looking for – logistical help, an empathetic ear, affirmation, something else? If you are asking for action from your partner, make the request as specific as possible. If you start on the listening side of the conversation, you can still State Emotional Intentions by asking your partner what they’re looking for– problem solving or empathy.

Next, shift from accusing to accountability and take ownership of your part in the conflict, which in this case is a disconnect in the bedroom. Starting a conversation on this topic with accusations or blaming will probably lead to immediate defensiveness, especially from a partner like Megan who is already feeling overwhelmed. Starting with accountability will open up the conversation and help the relationship grow.

Exploring other forms of intimacy can help couples regain their sexual connection. Develop safe intimacy by asking your partner to describe times and ways they felt safe while being vulnerable with friends or family. Take a class or listen to a podcast and develop intellectual intimacy. Go to a religious service, musical event, or anything else that inspires awe or reverence in you to develop spiritual intimacy. Recognize the practical Intimacy that already exists for the two of you – sharing household chores, planning vacations together, co-parenting – and appreciate these efforts as part of your relationship work, even if they’re not romantic.

When you’re both ready to talk about sexual intimacy again, ask specific questions about your partner’s sexual preferences: what makes them relaxed, how they like you to initiate physical contact, what kind of spaces or situations make it easier for them to let their guard down, what you can do to create safety around sex.

Finally, take a look at the big picture. Maybe draw a graph or pie chart using the different areas of intimacy in your relationship. What areas are lacking? Which ones are full? How do they affect each other?

Money Matters

Here’s another scenario.

Chris is careful with his money. He sticks to a budget, saves for retirement, and has a nearly perfect credit score. His boyfriend, Jason, is a different story. He has a tendency to overspend and lives paycheck to paycheck. Since they moved in together, the two of them have been bickering about household spending and saving for a shared future.

Few of us enter adulthood with sound financial habits and practices. Even if we develop some, chances are good they will be different from our partner’s habits, which will inevitably lead to some kind of conflict. When this happens, ask, don’t judge. Judging the differences in your partner fractures relationships. You’ll know you’re judging when you hear yourself using these words: Good/bad – “If you weren’t bad at this we wouldn’t be here.” Right/wrong – “That’s the wrong way to do it.” Too much/not enough – “You’re making too big a deal out of it.”

Challenge yourself to notice when you’re judging, and try to ask a thoughtful question instead. For example, “What’s your process here – could I help in any way?” or “What about this situation is making you feel overwhelmed?”

A similar skill is staying curious. You can learn more about your partner, and deepen intimacy, by asking curious follow-up questions like, “Explain that detail to me, I think it will help me get the full picture,” or, “What’s the story behind that thought process?” or even a simple, “Tell me more.”

Another great skill to use here is assuming the best. When you assume the best about your partner, you may see the differences you have in a new light, even when it comes to money. This skill is not easy, and assuming the best should be reserved for those who have earned your trust. But ask yourself – what changes for you when you assume the best about your partner’s intentions around money, or assume that they are doing the best they can? Think about a situation in the past in which you did not give your partner the benefit of the doubt, and then list five ways you could have assumed the best instead.

Since money issues can lead to complex emotions, this is a good place to create an emotional vocabulary. To practice this skill, make a list of all the emotions you can think of, and then do some research to find some more. Pick one of the emotions at random, write about a scenario in which you felt it, share the scenario with your partner, and see whether they can guess the emotion. Take turns until you create an emotional vocabulary that can adequately describe your full range of feelings.

Dinner at the In-Laws

Here’s one final example.

Emily and Zoe often have issues when they take their kids to Emily’s parents’ house for Sunday dinner. Emily’s brothers and their wives are usually there, too, along with their kids, and the house is loud and chaotic. Plus, Emily’s parents and brothers all drink, which increases the volume and adds a little more discomfort for Zoe. She grew up with a quiet single mom who never drank, and she gets overwhelmed by Emily’s family, who are loving but loud about it. By the time they get home from Sunday dinners, Emily and Zoe regularly wind up in their bedroom arguing behind a closed door so the kids don’t hear.

Since this has been an ongoing issue, Emily and Zoe could start by identifying repeating patterns. Many couples fight about the same issues over and over again, and some of these conflicts will never be resolved. However, if you can recognize the pattern, describe how it makes you feel, and be honest about what you need when you feel that way, you can break the pattern, or at least come to a place where you and your partner can support each other in your differences. To work on this skill, both partners should draw a flow chart of the most common negative pattern in the relationship. Include feelings, thoughts and actions for both partners. Share the flow charts with each other, and see how they differ and how they are similar. Is there a place where you can interrupt the flow?

When discussing a tender subject like family, couples can also hold space for vulnerability as they try to resolve the conflict. Being vulnerable means taking an emotional risk with someone else, and it is an essential part of any intimate relationship. People need to feel safe in order to be vulnerable, which is why we must hold space for vulnerability during tough conversations. To practice this skill, write about an experience when vulnerability with others went well for you, and an experience where it didn’t. For each situation, ask yourself the following questions: Did I feel physically safe? Did we establish boundaries and limits with each other before the interaction? Did we treat each other with kindness? Did we refrain from judgment? Did we each act with integrity? These are the ingredients of vulnerability. Practicing this skill with your partner can help you navigate conflicts in sensitive areas.

Both Emily and Zoe could also use the ask, don’t judge and staying curious skills mentioned in the previous section. Neither of their families is “wrong” or “bad” – they’re just different. If Emily and Zoe can approach those differences with curiosity instead of judgment, they can gain a better understanding of their partner’s point of view, as well as increase communication and intimacy in the relationship.


Conflict happens in every relationship. Healthy couples have the communication skills needed to effectively handle those conflicts with love and compassion.

It’s okay if you both came into the relationship with very different ideas about how to communicate. New, constructive skills can be learned with practice and patience, and they can replace old destructive habits. It’s possible to have calm and productive conversations around sensitive topics like sex, money, and family, even when there’s conflict involved. It’s even possible to have a healthy relationship with unresolvable issues, as long as you and your partner can communicate about it with kindness and understanding.

Again, it’s important to note that these skills take time to develop. Have patience with yourself and your partner as you practice them. Also, when it’s time to have that tough conversation about some sensitive topic, make sure the setting is right. If you or your partner is tired, hungry, or irritated, take care of those needs before jumping into a deep conversation around a tender topic.

About the author

Gina Senarighi, PhD, CPC is an author, teacher, sexuality counselor and certified relationship coach. She’s been supporting clean fights and dirty sex in happy, healthy relationships as an educator, coach, consultant and couples therapist for over ten years.

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