You’ve probably heard it said that when someone you love stops fighting with you, that’s when you really have to worry – because it means that, to some degree, they don’t care anymore.
Every couple goes through phases of arguments or fights about decisions, words spoken, or things they don’t agree on, but most fights (in my opinion) come from misunderstandings. Misunderstandings and miscommunications are what an average married couple has to learn to deal with – and to work through – before it begins to take a toll on the marriage. The great thing is that with patience and understanding, these can be worked through – but only if both partners actually seek to understand each other.
According to Dr. Sharon Morris May, author of How to Argue So Your Spouse Will Listen, couples need to (at any point in their marriage/relationship) establish a safe haven with each other. One needs to know the answers to these questions:
- Can I trust you will be there for me if I need you?
- Do you love, respect, and care about me?
- Can I trust you to be committed to me and to us?
- Will you be emotionally and physically available?
- Will you respond to me in a caring and considerate manner?
- Will you repair our hurts and reconnect when we are disconnected?
When any of these rhetorical questions goes answered with a resounding “No” by our partner’s actions, our “safe haven” is in jeopardy, and our relationship feels painful and disconnected. Fighting then becomes a way of trying to regain that sense of comfort and closeness, like knights defending their castle, there is a battle before the relationship is deemed as lost.
To be fair, there are some situations where fights are not started from simple misunderstandings or miscommunication, these are more problematic and honestly, need to seek the help of counseling in order to identify the specifics of what needs to be worked on in each case. Here are a few examples of unfair tactics & nasty fights:
–Being unnecessarily mean or rude to your spouse… this is one that really breaks my heart to see, and I’ve seen it quite often. One example was a man that was so rude to his wife, it seemed amazing if he could say anything without turning it into some kind of gab or cutting remark about her. I was surprised that she didn’t grab something heavy and hit him over the head! This man was frustrated with her on many different levels, and through many years, had wanted her to change or listen to his needs, and she had chosen to ignore them (or felt that she couldn’t change). So obviously his default reaction was to be as horribly cruel to her as possible, even in front of me.
Why do people stay in relationships like that? I don’t know, I think they must feel trapped by their life circumstances, whether it be financial or for family security, but it was clear that this woman was not going to leave her husband, even though he’d turned verbally abusive. This is not against men in any way, I’ve seen more women being cruel to their husbands in public than men to their wives.
–Bringing up things that are in the past that were already resolved – keeping a long record of wrongs to hold against your spouse… Confession, I can be the worst at this, and not just with my husband… I tend to remember every little detail of every human being I encounter… and it can be horrible. So when it comes to fights or arguments, I am quick to remember if something has ever happened like this before, and I have to bite my tongue if it is something we’ve already solved. With ex-boyfriends it served me well, because I could catch them in lies ridiculously fast – but as far as letting past things lie in the past with your spouse (as long as they aren’t lying or cheating on you), it’s best to accept apologies and not bring up old hurts that have been mended.
–Using name-calling or curse words to intentionally hurt each other during a fight… obviously, this isn’t fighting fair. The goal is to stay being respectful.
–Blocking each other out, or refusing to talk about the problem… this is not to be confused with asking for a break from the argument – its actually helpful sometimes to admit that you don’t know how to solve this right now, and that you need to take a break from it. As long as both partners respect each other and set a time for when they’ll return to the argument or fight so that they can work through it, taking a break is fine. Blocking each other out is just withdraw with no promise of care or respect, and no promise of if the relationship will ever be mended. Blocking out isn’t fair to your spouse.
Things to think about 🙂