A woman told me this week she's -- "fighting with my husband constantly." "Is that normal?" she asked. Yes and no I told her.
Disagreements in a relationship are normal. We all disagree with our partner from time to time. And if both partners are expressing their true thoughts and feelings, there's bound to be some disagreement. Let’s face it, no matter how much you love someone and get along, you’re each different people with your own thoughts and opinions. In fact, that’s likely something you enjoyed about each other in the beginning. So, yes, occasional disagreements or arguments are normal.
Unfortunately, some couples disagree a whole lot more than others. Even when disagreements turn into arguments it doesn't have to be bad. It's when disagreements turn into fights that it becomes a problem. And it's a big problem if you say, "I'm fighting with my husband constantly." Constant fighting can be an indication of other much bigger problems.
The woman above, Kate, and her husband, Rick, met with me for marriage counseling this week. I saw them fight about everything in their lives except for 1 thing, work. Everything else (kids, parenting, money, respect, sex, house, ex's) was a fight to the death over who was right and who was wrong. It’s like logic and the topic at hand was no longer the issue – just who got to claim the label “right” vs. “wrong.” Is it any wonder they're both miserable in their marriage and, using their own words, both say they have a "severe and intense dislike for each other?"
Fighting with your husband will destroy your marriage. The same is true for husbands fighting with their wives. Learning how to stop fights and keep them as disagreements, and at the most arguments, is crucial for a healthy relationship.
When an argument devolves into a “fight” it means anger is the primary emotion being felt and expressed. This is a problem because anger overrides logic and caring, and can lead to words and actions that are extremely damaging. With anger as the driver you’re no longer looking for a way to solve things -- you’re looking for a way to hurt each other. When this happens frequently it will destroy the relationship.
Take a look at the below social media post I wrote about relationship arguments.
Here's a very important point from the post: The key to a good relationship is not avoiding arguments, but how you deal with them. Healthy, successful relationships and marriages don't avoid conflict and the disagreements and arguments that come with it. The partners in them know how to disagree and work through it without letting the conflict escalate to a fight and turn into verbal abuse. In the rare instances when it does reach fight level, both partners recognize that and do something to reduce the conflict, like proactively stepping away and seeking some cooling off time. There are a variety of other ways to handle anger as well. In a successful relationship each person will know what way works best for them, as well as their partners preferred coping mechanism, and they respect the need to use it.
Another important point from the post: You win relationship arguments when you're mature enough to choose the relationship over being right. A fear for many partners is that if they do this it will mean they'll always be wrong and their partner will always be right. This becomes a power struggle within the relationship with each partner wanting to assert themselves and to be in control. This fear is an obstacle for Rick. He's afraid if he doesn't fight his wife (on everything) he'll always be wrong and thus be powerless. This is actually not true.
Here's the secret Rick is missing -- When you practice choosing the relationship over being right you'll find you have less and less arguments, and when you do, your partner will probably choose the relationship over being right too. Win-win
I've seen many wives fight with their husbands for the same reason, needing to always be right (or more accurately, never be wrong). So it's important to note that either sex, male or female, husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend can do this. See how needing to be right can easily become emotional abuse.
Fighting between husbands and wives can occur for more reasons than just needing to be right. But the psychological causes for this aren't as important as just recognizing how destructive fighting is for the relationship. If we all can hold on to the truth that 'immature' people choose being right even at the cost of the relationship, while 'mature' people will be wrong if necessary in order to keep the relationship, we're likely to find more happiness and satisfaction in our relationship. An added bonus is that we will be more successful on other topics -- parenting, financial decisions, and life plans, are a few.
Which are you going to choose? Will you choose to be 'mature' or 'immature' in your next argument? Successful or unsuccessful? Fighting with your husband constantly is unhealthy and will destroy your marriage. The same goes for you husbands fighting with your wives. Give the mature route a try and you may be surprised at the positive change in your relationship and life.
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Editor's Note: This post was originally published September 07, 2014 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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