Fighting can ruin your relationship, says Elizabeth Bernstein in The Wall Street Journal, unless you do it right. Research shows that what matters isn't whether we fight, but "how we fight — where, when, what tone of voice and words we use, whether we hear each other out fairly." If couples argue poorly — bickering, nagging, being dismissive and generally destructive — they can end up alone. "Yet if we argue well, experts say, we actually may improve our relationship." Here, an excerpt:

Here's the good news: It's possible to learn to argue in a much healthier way. The first thing you have to do is talk to the other person [sooner rather than later]. "The longer a conflict stews, the more likely we are going to get into catastrophe mode," says [University of Georgia professor] Jennifer Samp....

[Psychologist Howard] Markman has developed a method, for helping couples settle disputes, called the "speaker-listener technique"... He says that couples who have a disagreement should call a "couple's meeting" to discuss the issue without looking for a solution — and set a time limit of 15 minutes. They may flip a coin to see who speaks first.

Read the full article at The Wall Street Journal.