How To Fight Less Often In A Relationship, From A Therapist

Feeling that at your most clueless moment, you may trip over hidden trip wires is a common experience. Often times, the intensity of your partner's reaction does not seem to match the current situation. This is what makes these sudden flares so confusing. I know that often people look back on an argument and say, "I don't even know what it started with" or "Why did she react so irrationally to this trivial thing?" or "What just happened? I just asked a simple question and he went nuts!"

The other person probably has a perfectly logical explanation for their angry outburst (none of us!), But that explanation often obscures the real origins: injury or pain quickly buried in defensive reaction after defensive reaction.

Recognizing these feelings is key to fighting less. You can't solve something if you don't know what the problem really is.

In the first scenario, if the partner had taken advantage of the pain she was feeling, she could have said, “Babe, when you answered that call, I felt like I was being brushed aside. I wanted this evening to be just the two of us. "Then it would have been easy for her partner to respond by saying," I see.

Couples don't want to argue, but solutions like “I will try not to get so angry” or “I just accept things as they are” fall by the wayside. People are wired to connect, which is why these solutions are paper thin – we often don't really agree with this new and undesirable status quo. (Again, when true feelings are buried to avoid arguments, people often complain, spend more time with friends, or even have an affair – which, in turn, is not a solution to the distress in the relationship.)

When we feel misunderstood or criticized, our nervous system signals danger, and we fight, flee, or freeze in response. Our ability to obey rules of fairness is minimal, as is our ability to interact fruitfully with one another.

To combat this quick reaction, the very first thing to do is stop arguing.

Agree to a "timeout" signal. It's really hard to stop, of course – won't just one more sentence prove your point? – but it's important.

Comments are closed.