Fight the Good Fight
True or False? Healthy and happy couples are healthy and happy because they never fight. What do you think? If you see a couple who looks in every way to have a picture perfect relationship, would you assume that they don’t have regular fights and arguments? I can tell you the answer to both questions is FALSE and….true. What? How can it be False and True at the same time? Let me explain.
All couples have conflict, it’s inevitable, it’s part of being in a relationship. The difference is that healthy couples fight differently and they fight less often. They have learned a motto that I often repeat to my clients: “You can win the fight or you can love your spouse, you will not succeed at both”. Healthy couples have learned to solve their disagreements with maturity and a commitment to not use dirty fighting tactics. They prioritize their partner’s feelings over their need to dominate or be right.
Many couples are so accustomed to the way that they fight that they don’t even realize they are using dirty fighting tactics. They just know that their fights never really solve their problems and they often end up feeling less and less connected to their spouse after every battle. So, let’s really define some of these damaging tactics.
Here are 10 Unhealthy ways that couples fight:
Name Calling or Labeling- Using negative terms or labels that suggest your partner is at fault because they are hopelessly flawed as a person. This could also be called Psychoanalyzing; using terms such as “You’re such a narcissist” or “Don’t be so neurotic”.
Stonewalling- Refusing to engage in a conversation, being evasive, ignoring, and dismissing your partner’s concerns.
Escalating- Reading more into a simple statement or action then using it as your reason to attack.
Intimidating or Threatening- Using power to attempt to force someone to back down out of fear. These attempts are not always physical. Emotional intimidation and threatening is just as damaging as physical. For example “I will move out and you’ll never see your children again” is an emotional intimidation/threat tactic.
Mind Reading- Assuming your partner is feeling or thinking a certain way then acting on those assumptions as if they are 100% true facts.
Pulling Rank- Using your position as the breadwinner or the one who is the most educated for example to exert dominance over your partner. This conveys to your spouse they are not your equal.
Criticizing- Finding fault with all of their perceived bad behaviors and voicing those opinions as if you are the expert. This is especially hurtful when it is done constantly and/or in front of other people. This shows a severe lack of humility.
Lying or Exaggerating- Blowing an issue out of proportion by not sticking to the facts. Using words like “always” and “never” or embellishing a story or memory of how something happened with details that are untrue.
Brown Bagging- Not sticking to the original issue but overwhelming your partner by bringing up and piling on every problem from the past.
Silent Treatment- Refusing to argue in an effort to punish your spouse or try to avoid conflict. The silent treatment is almost always accompanied by feelings of resentment and bitterness.
If you recognize that some of these dirty fighting tactics have made their way into your relationship, don’t despair. Not all hope is lost. A better and healthier way to manage inevitable conflict can absolutely be learned. Learning healthy ways to manage disputes can turn you and your spouse into a powerful, problem solving team. The end result is a happy and healthy marriage and I would be honored to help you get there.
Call or click the LINK to schedule a session today (904) 885-0215