/, marriage, Relationship Advice & Tips/Relationship Advice: At War with Love

All couples fight

While it may be the last thing you want to do with your partner, couples who fight are not uncommon. Couples can get into a pattern or cycle of fighting and making up. Becoming triggered by the same unresolved issues and the same actions, tone of voice or sarcastic or hurtful speech time and again. Often, couples who fight don’t even see the pattern, it’s just become their life.

It gets worse

No matter how much you love someone, when you lose that emotional connection, resentment, anger and bitterness can take hold. These emotions start to override the feelings of love, respect and closeness you have with your partner. You begin to feel isolated, lonely and sad. You’re feeling the loss of your best friend, Those feelings of security and unity start to fade. Couples who fight  habitually without resolution of the issues can feel like they don’t even recognize their partner as the person they fell in love with. This is some of the deepest pain you can imagine. Having your partner in the same room and desperately wanting to reach out and connect with them, and yet feeling like they’re so out of reach to you that you’re scared to try and be rejected by the one you love most. Where does it end?

It can get better

If you’re feeling this way it’s likely your partner does too. Couples who fight in an escalating cycle of negativity can decide to break the pattern and learn new ways to de-escalate the issues and to “fight fair”. We’re always going to have disagreements and things that trigger us, but the trick to breaking the cycle is to learn how to talk about the underlying issues. These are the attachment needs we all have; the need to feel loved, important, secure and special. This is the real conversation; how do we send that message to our partners? 

Getting rid of blame, scorekeeping, bringing up the past and seeing your partner as an adversary is what’s needed. Instead begin to look at your partner as your best friend, your teammate in life, not someone who is against you. You are FOR each other and it’s high time you acted that way. Put aside pettiness, lean into love.  The two of you together when you’ve joined forces are a powerful combination.

A study of couples in the 1980s showed that couples who fought and held onto anger and resentment with unresolved issues actually had higher risk of health problems and shorter life spans due to unrest and strife. The stress caused by anger and resentment is very real and impactful on your life, health and happiness.

Couples who talk in healthy ways when conflict is present know that a fight is a temporary issue and the love they share will overcome any challenge. Sure, they still get triggered, frustrated; and anyone can have a bad day. But they know that “fighting in the right way” makes it less important than their relationship so they are able to deal with it and let it go. That’s the mark of a couple that has done the work to strengthen their connection to the point where they know that a simple disagreement cannot tear them apart.

5 ways to fight in a healthy way

  • Start slow and take turns talking. Let the other person speak their peace and hold your comments until they’re finished. Respect their position.
  • Don’t name call. Do your best not to make it personal. Avoid attacking the other person. Make it about the issue at hand.
  • Know how to cool down and do it before you get too heated. If you feel you’re becoming too emotional, take a breath, a step back or maybe even suggest that you stop discussing things now and take a break. Set a time to come back together when you’re both more calm and able to have a civil conversation. Follow through. Learn how to do an appropriate time out. Most people just fake this. There is a clear strategy that works! Download Time Out Guide
  • Set ground rules for arguments and stick to them. Both of you agree to the above points and throw in others that you feel are important. You may require that all electronics are off, both of you are paying attention and you will keep this argument between the two of you. No sharing with friends, relatives or even the kids. This is your issue to resolve. Be respectful and do your best to resolve the issue so you can kiss and make up.
  • Acknowledge each other’s feelings and points of view. Before you refute, give your argument, your rebuttal, or the reason why your partner is wrong, you need to take in and consider what your partner has said. Be open- minded and let your mind be changed. Be soft hearted and think about what is important to your partner and your relationship. If you both are operating this way, you’re on the right track. Remember what you’re fighting for: Connection.

Get help

Couples who fight are not doomed to a marriage full of strife ending in divorce. Together you can learn to resolve those issues that are keeping you in a cycle of battle with your partner. If you can’t figure out how to get started get help. A professional couple’s counselor who uses an attachment based therapy model is the person you need to help get you started.  The counselor will help you to find that emotional connection you’ve been missing and start you back on the path to a more loving and happy interaction. REMEMBER:  Conflict doesn’t have to cause a problem in your relationship it’s the lack of healing that can create an unhealthy relationship.


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About the Author:

Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW helps couples to overcome the disconnection in their relationships. As an author, blogger and podcaster, Stuart has helped couples around the world to experience a unique relationship in which they can feel special and important, confident in knowing they are loved deeply and that their presence matters. The Couples Expert Podcast consists of weekly provocative conversations offering the perspectives and insight of experts from a variety of relationship related fields. Stuart also offers daily relationship video tips on The Couples Expert YouTube channel and by subscription in Stuart's Daily Notes. Stuart is happily married and a devoted father of 2 daughters. His office practice serves the greater Phoenix, Arizona area including the cities of Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa.