“I’m so sick of having the same argument over and over again.” “I’m trying of fighting.” “I want to just give up, we never resolve anything.” These are some of the common issues I hear couples discuss when they first start coming to counseling. I totally get it...fighting is flat out exhausting. Both people feel like they are spinning their wheels but not gaining any traction. It can be pretty awful.
What I’ll normally do is allow a natural argument to happen right there in the therapy session, and I will spend some time helping that particular couple understand all the steps which got the argument to the place it’s at now. Most people find even this step to be helpful. Each person can gain a better awareness of how each step caused a reaction in the other person, and then another reaction, and they can see how quickly things escalate. It happens in the blink of an eye, and what’s harder is that couples have been engaging in this pattern for years. These are behaviors that can be fixed in therapy; couples do have the ability to fight fairly and constructively. I’ve seen it, and I know that making just a few tweaks in the way people fight can drastically alter their relationship satisfaction.
There are many strategies that therapists use to help their couples fight fairly and justly. But here’s the thing, so many couples still come in saying that their goal is not to fight at all. I can tell you that when couples stop fighting, they become disengaged, discontent, apathetic, and indifferent to their relationships. They have given up on trying to make things better.
Don’t let conflict become the enemy in your relationship...it’s not. Conflict can be sucky, it can be draining, it can leave you feeling deflated. That’s just because you’re doing it wrong. It’s not arguing that’s destroying your relationship, it’s HOW you argue. The goal can’t be to never fight because there are going to be hard things that come up in life, and conflict is an inevitable part of that. Without knowing how to deal with it, you are either brushing things under the rug without dealing with them which leads to later resentments, or you’ve checked out completely.
Don’t stop fighting for your relationship. Trust me, it’s worth it. Underneath all that arguing is a great foundation. You can absolutely find it if you clean up the mess that’s on top. Start tidying up, and learn how to fight for your marriage.
To learn the Rules of Fair Fighting, download my guide here. There’s a printable version as well to hang on the fridge or carry in your purse. You can even make it your screensaver if you need that extra reminder! I am a Marriage and Family Therapist located in the Clear Lake area of Houston, Tx. I work with couples that are facing tough stuff and struggling to find ways to get past difficult situations and stay connected. I love seeing the changes that happen right before my eyes in therapy sessions when couples learn to fight differently. It’s amazing to see relationships shift into something wonderful when things seemed so hopeless at the beginning. If you have been considering marriage counseling or couples therapy, please call me at (832) 827-3288 for a free 20 minute phone consultation.