Mr. Marriage Counselor: "We Always End Up In a Fight"

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    Disagreements and arguing are a normal part of any long-term relationship. There’s simply no way that two people can share a life together and all the day-to-day hassles that come along with it without rubbing each other the wrong way here and there. But while occasional quarrels are normal, fighting all the time isn’t. If you find that no matter what you do, you and your partner always end up in a fight then it’s a sign of larger problems.

    At Guy Stuff we work with couples everyday that are struggling because they feel their fighting has gotten out of control. In fact, because they can’t seem to communicate at all anymore without getting into an argument many believe that they love is gone. Yet that’s not always the case. Take a look at the question below from Katie who say’s she and her boyfriend always end up in a fight no matter what they do. Perhaps it will sound familiar. My response follows.

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    Reader Question:

    Hi - I suppose our situation is not unique. Just moved in together after being together a year and are at each other's throats. I believe we love each other and want to make it work but we always end up in a fight. I am currently away for a couple of days so he can have some "space." He is not adverse to counseling so I am lucky. How can counseling help us?" -Katie R.

    Katie’s right – her situation isn’t particularly unique. Especially given that they’ve recently made a big relationship decision and moved in together. Changes of that magnitude and status in a relationship can often have growing pains and commonly lead to disagreements. At the heart of the problem for Katie and most couples, however, is communication.

    My Answer:

    Communication is hard for almost all couples. Like most of us, it sounds like you both could use some tools that will help you better talk to each other without it always ending in a fight.

    Fights usually are driven by our not feeling understood, respected and loved. But there are ways for you to talk to each other that will make you both feel cared about even when you don't agree. A professional couples counselor can teach you both how to do this.

    When you both can talk to each other so you feel respected and cared about, you'll find that the things you used to fight about often won't be such a big deal anymore. It's amazing what's possible in a relationship when we treat each other like partners and not enemies.

    Fighting All The Time Is Bad, But Never Fighting Is Worse

    Fighting all the time is a sign of communication problems and isn’t healthy for the relationship. The same can also be said for never fighting at all. In fact, never fighting at all may actually be worse.

    Many people assume that couples who never fight are the happiest. They aspire to be just like them – it must be blissful to never disagree, right? Well, maybe, but it’s really blind and naive. Occasional arguing is actually part of a healthy, happy relationship and can be a sign of good communication skills.

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    It’s important to understand that no two people agree all the time, it’s just not possible. Facing and overcoming conflict allows you to assert your convictions and stand up for things that are important to you. It also allows you to maintain your individuality. Just because you are a couple doesn’t mean you have to think and feel the same way.

    And expressing your feelings can help you grow as a couple by learning more about each other. It’s a common pitfall of committed relationships for partners to feel that they know all there is to know about one another. No matter how long you’ve been together, this isn’t true. When you each express your opposing thoughts, feelings, or concerns you’re showing each other new sides of yourself. It’s even possible for the process of disagreeing and resolving conflict to bring you closer together.

    How Partners Fight Is Most Important

    There is a caveat to this encouragement of fighting, however. When fights occur they need to be dealt with in respectful and appropriate ways. After all, you may disagree but that doesn’t mean you don’t still love each other. So while some arguing in a relationship is healthy, doing it in a demeaning, hurtful, or abusive manner isn’t.

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    Couples who never fight actually have as serious of a communication problem as couples who fight all of the time, just on the other side of the spectrum. So if you find like Katie did that no matter what you do you always end up in a fight, it’s time to stop and start considering how you can communicate better. There’s a happy medium – it just will take effort by both of you to find it.

    Editor's Note: This post was originally published November 19, 2009 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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