It feels like World War III - you and the love of your life are in a screaming match.
You've been fighting for hours, and you can't even recall what caused the problem in the first place.
Your partner is furious, and you are now on the verge of tears.
Fighting with your partner is a natural part of life.
It's an inevitable consequence of being in an intimate relationship.
Even the most successful couples argue who've been together for years.
The problem is when it happens all the time.
So how should you handle it?
How do you move past the screaming and apologies and move towards greater understanding and acceptance?
How can you use conflicts and arguments as an opportunity for your relationship to improve?
Let's take a closer look at the reasons why couples fight and the steps you can take to prevent it from happening.
The 6 Most Common Reasons Why Couples Fight
First of all:
Just because you're fighting with your partner does not mean you're not meant for each other.
As much as we'd like to believe that we're the exception and that should not fight with the person we love, this isn’t realistic.
Judith Wallerstein, author and sociologist wrote in her book: "The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts":
“Every married person knows that "conflict-free marriage" is an oxymoron.
In reality, it is neither possible nor desirable…
In a contemporary marriage, it is expected that husbands and wives will have different opinions.
More importantly, they can't avoid having serious collisions on big issues that defy compromise."
What are these issues?
Let's take a closer look at them.
A 2009 study showed that money didn't rate as the most common reason for conflict at home.4
But fights that stem from money issues were “more pervasive, problematic, recurrent, and remained unresolved, despite including more attempts at problem-solving."
Money is strongly linked to personal power and control.
It can lead to a power struggle between couples who might have conflicting beliefs on how they should handle it.
2. Lack of Communication
It’s frustrating when your partner doesn’t want to talk to you about their needs and wants.
You can't sort out any differences and grow resentful without communicating.
Use these signs as warning signals to prevent or improve the situation:
- You're always annoyed at each other.
- Your arguments escalate into fights.
- You're constantly arguing about petty things.
- Being passive-aggressive.
- You're constantly criticizing each other.
- You're always accusing each other of being selfish or inconsiderate.
- You're always trying to change each other.
- You're always making excuses for your partner's behavior.
- You're always blaming your partner for the problems in your life.
All of these are symptoms.
They originate from a few underlying issues:
- Lack of Empathy (not being aware of each other's feelings)
- Inability to express emotions
- Lack of respect
- Not trusting one another
- Not giving each other the benefit of the doubt
3. Lack of intimacy
Intimacy is a basic need.
Many couples fall into a lifestyle of isolated living patterns, causing them to lose their connection with each other.
What happens when you have a weak connection?
You fall back into destructive fighting patterns or be indifferent to each other.
Intimacy is your connection with your partner as a whole (not just sex)
The 4 other types of intimacy:
- Emotional intimacy involves sharing thoughts and feelings. As much as you can, be each other’s safe space.
- Intellectual intimacy involves communicating different beliefs and perspectives without worrying about conflicts that may arise because of it.
- Experiential intimacy involves having private moments and inside jokes that intensify your closeness and connection.
- Spiritual intimacy involves sharing the same purpose with your partner. This type of intimacy does not necessarily point to praying together but also enjoying the beauty of nature and discussing what spirituality means to you.
4. Fear of Loss
Arguments often erupt out of fear of your partner leaving you.
You're allowing your past to dictate your present.
In time, you will:
- Be afraid to talk about affection and caring towards each other.
- Resent your partner's reluctance to grow their relationship.
- No longer feel safe sharing personal information.
- No longer be intimate with your partner because you no longer trust that they'll stick around.
Fear of loss can also make you controlling and demanding. You may even feel jealousy, distrust, and insecurity.
Hardcore anxiety and obsessive fears can also make way for more fights with your partner often.
Or you become more defensive and withdrawn when your partner feels this way.
As a result, you won't be able to connect intimately, leading to conflict and alienation.
5. Unrealistic Expectations
If you've been together for a while, you may feel like your relationship is not where you want it to be.
Which is disappointing and frustrating.
The problem is with unrealistic expectations:
You risk feeling regret or disappointment when things don't turn out the way you wanted them to.
It doesn't mean that you have to lower your expectations for yourself and your relationship.
You just need to work on your unrealistic expectations.
- Eliminate the word "should" from your vocabulary
- Never make your partner feel guilty because they didn't meet your expectations
- Focus on what it is that you can do to make your relationship better
- Respect that your partner has their own needs and wants, and they may not be the same as what you want
- Make sure that you're being realistic when assessing your relationship
6. Loss of passion
Do you have problems in the bedroom? It's not as exciting as it was when you first got together?
That doesn't happen all of a sudden.
You may have become distracted with other things.
This can make way for fights because you feel that you're losing the person you fell in love with.
Just because your relationship does not feel exciting all the time does not mean the love is gone.
So how can you become passionate again?
A good start is spending time together doing activities you both enjoy, even if you only have time for an hour a day.
Related: Marriage Advice for Newlyweds
8 Tips To Stop Fighting In A Relationship
So how do you stop fighting with your partner?
1. Don’t ruminate on negative things
Don't stew on negative thoughts if you’re upset with your partner.
Try to distract yourself by going for a walk, reading a book, or watching a movie.
When you focus on negative emotions, you will exaggerate them.
Ruminating about negative feelings will also put you in a bad mood and damage your self-esteem.
This leads to irrational anger.
2. Let it R.A.I.N on your intense and difficult emotions
Dealing with difficult emotions is no walk in the park.
The next time you feel hurt or angry, try the R.A.I.N. mindfulness approach.
This acronym stands for:
Recognize what is happening
Allow life to be just as it is
Investigate inner experience
1. Recognizing what's happening means you acknowledge the situation.
2. You allow life just to be as it is. It enables you to resist the temptation to act impulsively.
3. The R.A.I.N method also encourages you to investigate your inner experience.
This includes examining what you think, feel, and want.
An example of this could be self-talk such as "Why is this happening to me? What is triggering these emotions?"
4. Non-identification. We're so used to thinking that we ARE our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
You can acknowledge that you're experiencing a negative emotion and that it's okay to feel it.
You don't let it define you.
Non-identification allows you to feel like you're watching life happen to you instead of happening to you.
3. Step away to calm down
Try finding a positive outlet for your anger or frustration. You could run, lift weights, or go for a walk.
But don't just leave the heated conversation whenever you feel like it.
Tell your partner how stepping away can benefit your situation.
You're not running away from the issue.
You're simply transitioning from the emotional intensity to a calmer state of mind.
This technique prevents you from getting into excessive arguments.
Cooled off abit?
You will be able to communicate more clearly and you will be less defensive.
4. Focus on the tree
Not the forest.
Past issues have no place in your argument.
It’s a common strategy that couples use to attempt to hurt their partner.
It only worsens the situation and it can lead to unnecessary hurtful words.
And be specific.
When you're calling out your partner for something, avoid generalizing.
If you're upset with your partner for forgetting something, you can't say, "you're always forgetting things!"
What can you do instead?
Say, "The other day, you forgot to do the laundry."
It’s much more specific and less accusatory.
And it's very unlikely that your partner "always" forgets things.
5. Avoid “You” statements
Avoid pointing the finger of blame at your partner.
Instead, try to be more mindful and use "I" statements.
Saying something like, "You're never there when I need you," is not as effective as "I feel alone when you're not around."
6. Focus on solutions and not on winning the argument
Trying to win an argument is like shooting a football in your own goal.
Both of you will lose.
Because you’re on the same team.
So instead of focusing on winning the argument, focus on working towards a solution.
If you've done something wrong, apologize.
If your partner has wronged you, let them know what they can do to improve and move past it.
7. Be mindful of your tone
How can you ensure you're using the right tone when speaking to your partner?
Before you say anything, think about what the intention should be.
Is your intention to get them to listen to you? Or is it to lash out and blame them?
It's easy to lose your cool and start yelling when you're upset.
But this makes the situation worse.
Talk calmly. Focus on the issue. It will be much easier for them to listen.
This can also extend to your facial expressions.
Rolling your eyes ot glaring silently at your partner are form of contempt.
The natural reactions is defense and fighting back.
8. Actively listen instead of itching to talk
Listening is one of the most important skills you can develop in your relationship.
Don't be so wrapped up in your perspective that you tune your partner out.
What is your partner trying to say?
Try to understand their perspective.
You can share your perspective with empathy and compassion after your partner stops talking.
Although fighting is a natural process in any relationship, it can be a very negative experience.
If you want your relationship to grow, learn to avoid fighting with your partner.
As long as you and your partner are both willing to make an effort, you'll be able to stop fighting.