Finding true love and starting a relationship is one the most beautiful things that can happen to anyone, but unfortunately, the ecstatic period of love and joy lasts shorter, and soon the reality sets in. Arguments take the place of romantic conversations and fight to become a routine.
Fights and arguments are an inevitable part of the relationship. Dr. John Gottman – a marriage and family therapist, after studying 3,000 couples for more than 40 years, concluded that 69% of marriage conflicts are never resolved. That means most couples fight over the same issues, again and again. Dr. Gottman calls these unresolved issues “Gridlocks”. The most common conflicts among couples are:
- Free Time
- Physical Intimacy
- Extended Family
Generally, these topics come under a mundane conversation, and then rather than resolution, it turns into a nasty argument. The researchers have identified that unmet needs are the basic cause of triggering uneasiness among couples, which further leads to poorer communication and ends up in a fight. For example, we feel saddened and ashamed, when criticized by our spouses. We feel the partner is unable to satisfy our need for acceptance. Such unmet needs are not often expressed directly and transformed into negative emotions, such as anger and resentment. Consequently, a very insignificant incident can push the button and channel the deep-rooted anger towards the partner and escalate the conflict.
Conflicts and arguments are unavoidable and often hurts the relationship but the good news is that, if conflicts are dealt with in a positive way, it can lead to a better understanding and builds stronger bond among couples. Just like, there is always the brightest sunshine after a severe storm. It is important to use that sunshine to flourish the relationship further.
Tips to Fight Productively
The secret to avoiding arguments is loving and respectful communication but the secret to having a strong bond is to fight productively. Frequent fights and arguments, ruin the relationship. It is better to understand the pattern of fights and have a healthy discussion rather than pointing out each other’s mistakes.
Read between the lines
Sarah is a working woman and facing severe stress at her workplace. When she came home, she said to her husband that it was a tough day, and it is draining her physically and emotionally. Her husband took it literally and responded it by suggesting, “why don’t you take a few days off” or “quit this job”. Sarah, who was already stressed out, didn’t like the response, she took it as her husband saying that she is incompetent and felt hurt by his response. All she needed was a hug and a tap on the back, appreciating how well she is managing even in such a stressful time.
Sometimes all we need from our spouse is, acceptance and comfort. Just take a moment and think before reacting to any situation. Try to understand the need of your partner. We all need acceptance and appreciation. Do not be a pester and a critique all the time.
Stick to the Present Moment and Do Not Globalize
In most cases, an insignificant incident is the beginning of a major fight among couples. A small disagreement can be tagged onto one of your larger arguments and immediately explode into a big fight.
Do not invalidate all of your partner’s efforts in response to a single negative event. For instance, if your spouse forgot to bring the grocery items as per your wish list, do not globalize it by saying he/she never remembers anything or never listens to you. Don’t call up past arguments or offenses. I know it’s hard, but it only will exacerbate an issue that is gridlocked (and devolve into a larger fight). Avoid globalizing and passing on statements such as, “You are always like this” or “You never do this”. It will only invoke negative feelings and aggravate the issue at hand. Instead, focus on the current conflict and try to resolve it.
It is critical to keep the discussion in the present and not to bring out past mistakes. Holding onto past woes builds resentment. It is better either to forgive and forget or to discuss and resolve the issue rather than fighting over the same issue over and over again.
Never Delay in Apologizing
Usually, couples take the arguments on their egos and expect the partner to apologize first. However, it has been observed that making an apology has a powerful impact and subsides the harsh feelings towards the spouse. So, always try to be the first one to break the ice and apologize.
Overall, accept the innate differences between men’s and women’s psychology and try to approach the conflict with the intention to resolve it, not to demean your partner. Working together to find the solution, will not only lead you to develop a better understanding but also strengthen your love. Couples who fight productively know that it’s sometimes necessary to let their partner know where they stand.