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The "I Win" Rules: keys to a happy and harmonious relationship

Updated on August 1, 2013

What are the "I Win" Rules?

The "I Win" rules were invented by my husband and I and are used to resolve minor squabbles of little or no consequence in a quick manner, thus preventing its evolution into a bigger argument.

To be stated simply, the only real rule of "I Win" is - I win! Whoever first declares that they win, wins the argument. For more detailed rules, please see rules sections below.

constant bickering can lead to an unhealthy relationship
constant bickering can lead to an unhealthy relationship | Source

In What Types of Arguments Should the "I Win" Rules Be Invoked?

Any argument best described as "trivial" or characterized as "bickering" or relatively pointless would fit the bill. Obviously, this determination is subjective - what's important to one person may be inconsequential to the next. However, it can be illustrated with some examples:

  1. A disagreement that widdles down to faulty memory; i.e. Jerome claims Nadine said something, and Nadine thinks she stated something else. Maybe Jerome or Nadine is mis-remembering, maybe Jerome misheard Nadine, who knows.
  2. A subjective argument; e.g. "This is the most influential band ever." That's just one opinion, even if backed up with a lot of relevant facts.
  3. A debate whose outcome has no bearing on the future. What will you achieve by winning this argument, besides the satisfaction of victory and upsetting your friend, spouse, or partner? For example, debate over facts that have no relevance to the point of the story - "that happened 6.5 years ago, not 7!"

When Should I NOT Use the "I Win" Rules?

  1. Anytime the source of the argument is a high priority item for one or more members of the relationship - for example, arguing over someone always coming home late from work, or financial matters.
  2. When controlled or illegal substances are related to the argument, such as someone potentially having too much to drink or abusing drugs.

The Rules for "I Win"

  1. Whoever declares "I Win" first, wins, except when "Shenanigans" special rules are invoked (see separate section).
  2. Either party can declare "I Win" at any time during the argument, even while interrupting the other.
  3. The party who declares "I Win" is not required to have the upper hand in the argument at the time of declaration.
  4. Once "I Win" is declared by a party, the argument must cease.
  5. If the party who declared "I Win" continues arguing, they forfeit the victory immediately.
  6. If a party declares "I Win" and the other party continues arguing, the winning party is permitted to continually repeat "I Win" (and can even add some "tsk, tsk" or "zp") until the other party ceases arguing. Additionally, the winning party can also choose to dance around, wave their arms, and engage in other tomfoolery.

Special Rules: Shenanigans

When the argument is objective (i.e. a debate over facts), Shenanigans rules can be invoked by the losing party after "I Win" has been declared.

Steps for invoking "Shenanigans:"

  1. Research the debated fact, typically on the internet. Wikis, IMDB, and other reference websites are often used.
  2. Once proof is found that the party that declared "I Win" had no merits to their argument, verify the integrity of the source.
  3. The evidence does not have to prove that the loser was right, just that the winner was wrong.
  4. Declare "Shenanigans" and show the previously winning party the proof.
  5. The "I Win" declaration is now nullified.

The "I Win" rules allow you to focus on what's important to the both of you.
The "I Win" rules allow you to focus on what's important to the both of you. | Source

Benefits of the "I Win" Rules

  • It forces the bickering to stop before it escalates into a full-blown argument.
  • The arguing parties disengage from the argument, allowing them to stop and collect their thoughts and feelings about each other before they say something that they may regret.
  • The silliness of the rules keeps the parties light-hearted about the discussion and about each other.
  • The Important things about the relationship are kept in perspective ("don't sweat the small stuff").
  • Neither party is left hurt in actually losing or forfeiting the argument for the sake of peace; both parties can maintain their ego and self-worth.


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