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Fighting in MarriageFighting in Marriage: Why and How to Stop it.

It is commonly thought that couples fight about:

Unfortunately, this is not really what couples are fighting about.  People argue when they feel they are unheard, de-valued or  uncared for. Actually couples are fighting about being disconnected and alone!

People are hard wired for companionship and closeness. This is in part how the human species survived. Generally, when one person feels anxious or fearful the other responds with support and protection.  However, if the other partner does not know how to do this he/she might feel badly, withdraw, be critical or become defensive in order to avoid these inadequate feelings. Then the originally anxious person is likely to then become critical, defensive or even contemptuous because she is fearful of being alone and isolated. All of this is going on at the unconscious level. Just knowing this may help to get underneath conflict..

Fair FightingIn order to calm some of the more difficult fights here are some Fair Fighting Tips:

1. Validate your partner - If you can find something in the argument that ‘makes sense’ then tell your partner what it is. This creates goodwill and can calm things down right away.

2. Take a time out - When things get escalated, and yelling or overreaction starts sometimes it is good to take a break to cool things off a bit. Be sure to tell your loved one that you will be back so it doesn’t feel like you are walking out on them.

3. No silent treatments - Remember that the silent treatment is a form of verbal abuse, if you need a break, ask for one directly. If you don’t talk it out, your loved one will never understand you.

4. The problem is the problem: Your loved one is NOT the problem - Remember that personal criticism and sarcasm do not solve problems. Verbalize what is wrong.

5. Fight respectfully - Avoid put downs, give the benefit of the doubt, be kind, discuss only one issue at a time, be honest, keep your commitments, share your needs and desires, stay away from button pushing, and stay calm if you can.

6. Reach out - If you can let your loved one know that you love them. This will go a long way to diffusing the conflict.  This may be a kind gesture of love, a bit of humor or a hug.

7, Own your part - Accept any responsibility that is your own. Acknowledge what part you played in creating this situation. Share your vulnerability.

8. Listen - Be sure that you are really listening and not just trying to wait for your loved one to stop talking so you can get a chance to make your point.

9.Check in - Ask your loved one if they are feeling heard. For example, “Do you feel that this is resolved for you?” If you were wrong, admit it and apologize.

10. Reconnect - However you and your loved one reconnect, it can be a kiss, hug or some other form of affection.