Couples Therapy – 4 Tips to Stop Fighting All the Time
September 23, 2022
People grow up and enter into relationships and many believe that ‘it should just work’. When problems arise and fighting happens we manage with the tools we picked up from our parents, teachers and previous relationships however they have all learnt the ways to navigate in a stormy relationship moment from someone else who was just practicing and trying to do better than the last time.
Tip #1: Start listening and responding in a different way
One aspect of a fight is often that the parties involved feel not heard. Start by feeding back what you hear your partner says, without responding by adding your point or giving your opinion. You might like to say something like: ‘You feel ___ (for example: unloved) because I ___ (for example: am always coming home late). Repeating back what you heard does not necessarily mean that you agree with your partner, however you work towards actively listening to each other. The next step is to ask clarifying questions in a non-reactive way. Ask: ‘What specifically that I have said or done is making you feel unloved?’ Continue with active listening and feeding back.
Tip #2: Say sorry and mean it
Apologizing is one of the most powerful ways to take ammunition out of a fight. Saying: ‘Look, I’m really sorry that I have upset you. It was not my intention and I am sorry’ can turn an argument around simply because you have taken responsibility for the fact that your actions, words or behaviour might have hurt your partner and that you did not intend it. Any blame loses its justification when you have truly said sorry and meant if from your heart. Refrain from adding your point of view in this moment; simply say sorry and pay attention to your partner’s reaction.
Tip #3: Take responsibility for your own history
In any fight there are two parts that have made their own contribution to the problem. The first step to reduced reactivity in a relationship is to take responsibility for your own unresolved history and start cleaning it up. If you do not know any form of release or process work you might want to find professional help from a therapist, coach or counsellor to do so.
Tip #4: Give in, forgive, let go and start fresh
Fights mostly are two ‘ego identifications’ butting heads and trying to convince the other of their point of view being right. Practice giving in for a change and see what happens to the fight.
Often fights are fueled by past issues. Bringing up the past won’t help the present issue so it is better to drop it and truly let go of it and only deal with what is present now. Start fresh by seeing only the current issue.
These tips obviously will only bear fruit if both partners are willing to start changing the pattern. Still, you can start from your side and observe the changes that occur. Be patient and be aware of ‘change back’ movement where your partner would like you to come back to the part you played before you have altered your reactions.
Ask for professional help
When emotions run high reactivity is almost unavoidable. Sometimes all your efforts might not be enough to change the patterns you and your partner have gotten yourself into. If you have not yet found the courage to ask for help it is time to do it now.