We all fight. It is part of marriage survival. You husband will get angry or annoyed with you over any number of things. Or, if you are a guy visiting this article, you can be assured that your wife is not immune from fighting with you about all kinds of issues. You have heard it all, right? Hell has no fury than a woman’s scorn….Don’t be glad if a women is mad. If you have not watched “War of the Roses” and need a good laugh and a lesson of what not to do, then check it out!
So the question is what do we do when we feel a fight coming on. How do we maintain a relationship….a marriage….such that there is an understanding of how the husband and wife should behave if a fight should ensue?
You should also understand what kind of things you can do during a fight that will keep the fight fair. A husband and wife lobbing insults and resorting to making ugly assertions will accomplish little in growing their marriage.
Marriages are Torn Down When Fighting Ensues
The idea of a marriage is to build the relationship, not tear it down. So learning how to handle yourselves during a fight is critical. The damage caused from fighting unfair and not knowing how to diffuse emotions when they rise high, can threaten the very survival of your marriage.
This is particularly the case when fights become commonplace. Some people think that it is OK to fight and fuss as it builds character and helps people let off steam . The thinking is that couples in a marriage can survive fighting because it makes them stronger. It helps them relieves them of stress. Ummmm, really!
I know of a husband and wife team that were of the opinion that fighting is simply a part of their way of communicating. They told me that sometimes they hold things back and are afraid to tell their husband or wife and that when they get into the fighting mood, they just let it loose. When all the dust settles, even if they have suffered wounds, they have good sex and all is well in their marriage. Ummm, can you say, “delusional”!
Personally, I think that they are walking a marriage survival tight rope with this kind of attitude for fighting. There is no doubt that stress can easily build and sometimes spouses will need to find a way to get rid of it. But hoping that a fight will unfold in order to open up communication channels or planning to have word by word combat with your lover is playing with fire that will in time threaten the stability of your marriage.
So if you come from an upbringing or have a philosophy where it is perfectly OK to let it loose with your wife or husband and you think that by doing so it will make things better….think again because you will eventually find yourself enveloped in marital quicksand.
Marriages That Work are Like Banks
Think of your interactions with your husband or wife as a endless series of transactions. You can make deposits or you can make withdrawals, just like at a bank.
Think of fighting with your marriage partner as a withdrawal from your love bank. For the marriage to thrive…we are talking way beyond marital survival here…..then the relationship you share with your lover should be within a culture of positive exchanges.
We are talking making frequent deposits. When a couple is engaged in destructive and irresponsible marriage fights, the emotional and behavioral experiences they are having leading up to the fight, during the fight, and often at the end of the fight will weigh on the survival of the relationship.
The negative experiences and bad memories will collect and negatively imprint on the couple’s psyche, often times on one of the marriage partners more than the other. So if you are of the mind that it is perfectly fine to fuss and fight frequently with your spouse and if this behavior has become commonplace in your marriage, then I cannot tell you enough that you are violating one of the most important rules of marriage….”Thou shall not frequently fight with my spouse”.
Or there exceptions to this rule? Sure, I know of some couples that are very secure with who they are and what they are about and while the frequency of their fights were far too high by my guidelines, they still enjoyed a functionally successful marriage.
But such couples are usually the exception to the rule. Most couples cannot withstand the damage that is done when fights with their spouse becomes too commonplace. It is both emotionally and physically unhealthy to frequently give in to the temptation of our “bad” desires. Indeed it is both selfish, short sighted to drag your lover over the coals.
Fighting With Your Lover is Difficult to Always Avoid
Now, with all that said, I think we would all agree that to a large extent fighting with your lover cannot be avoided. It will happen. We are not robots and cannot always contain our pent up emotions. Something can happen suddenly that causes you to become so angry with your spouse that it becomes nearly impossible to not launch into some fit of anger.
After all, we are all creatures of the animal kindom with the most complex emotions of any animal on this planet. You throw all that complexity around within the framework of marriage and things can go bat sh#t crazy at times.
Our past histories can get dredged up and that can serve as a springboard for some of the rawest of emotions that in themselves trigger conflict. Show me a marriage and I will show you two people who love each other, but who are never completely compatible in every situation and who will give, at times, to the urge to argue and fight.
Surviving the Urge to Wage Battle in Your Marriage
So let’s discuss some of the things you can do before a fight gets underway. You usually know it before it happens, right? You can feel the urge welling up in you to launch an attack or preemptive attack on your wife or husband over whatever.
The feeling to let things loose may start to well up inside of you minutes before an actual argument begins. Or it can be one of those marital situations that has been building for days and you just “know” that it is going to end up into a fight.
Then again, it can be that other marital thing. It can be a case where you are picking up little clues that your wife or husband is getting fussy or edgy. There are unusually telltale signs that informs you that a fight is brewing….that conflict with your spouse is just around the corner.
Stopping the Relationship Conflict Before It Gets Started
What can one do before a fight gets underway to stop it? If you pick up on any of these warning signs that hell may be breaking loose, then I would suggest you “name it”.
What does that mean?
Essentially, what I am talking about is speaking the words like, “honey, I feel we are about to fight“. Name what about to happen before it can get underway. While this is not 100% effective, it can go a long ways in deflating the urge to fight.
What you would rather see happen is the fight gets avoided and is replaced with a calmer discussion. Even if it is a robust or somewhat emotional conversation you are having with you spouse, that is much better than letting things evolve into a full fledged marital dispute.
After “naming” the potential for a fight, you should go further and underscore why arguing is counter productive and painful. Take the opportunity to point out that waging a fight will be painful to both of you is important. Tell your spouse something like, “Honey, it hurts me inside so much when we fight. I am afraid we will say awful things to each other“.
By giving the prospect of a fight a “face” and using words to explain why that behavior is personally destructive helps with stopping the fight in its track. You see, when we resort to our fight ways in marriage, it is often done without foresight or the recognition of the damage it can cause to our spouse, ourselves, and the marriage.
Your fighting urges don’t care about feelings. Fighting urges don’t care about acting responsible. Such urges only care about getting out…rearing its ugly head. Your fighting urges are selfish. So if you appeal to your wife or husband while they are still mostly in control of their emotional center and urges…..and reason with them and explain to them the consequences of a potential fight, you might just be able to head off the conflict before it emerges.
Your Fight Has Started – How do you Stop It?
So what is one to do if the fight is underway? How can you tame the ugliness that sometimes unfolds when a married couple starts banging heads? Well, I have some basic tips you should follow. I talk about them extensively in my post that deals with the 5 Principles of an Successful Marriage.
Let me summarize a few ideas that I believe can help a married couple. First, be reminded that when you fight with your marriage partner, you both lose. No matter how the fight turns out or who declares themselves as the winner or the person that was “right”, just be reminded that you have both lost when a fight starts and the experience itself is usually not healthy for the relationship.
This is a case in which one of the spouses can declare themselves as being “so right”, but in reality they are so “wrong”. At the beginning stages of the fight, remind your spouse of this fact. Tell them that we are hurting our relationship and should calm down and stop fighting.
Another practical suggestion to help diffuse a marital fight as it gets underway is to call a time out, particularly as things get heated. Simply tell your wife or husband, “I love you and I hate fighting. Let’s just calm a time out for 15 minutes, then resume our discussion.” It may sound like it won’t work, but just try it.
Remember, it takes two to argue, so if one of the parties simply walks away, refusing to participate in the ugliness of verbal conflict, it is pretty hard for a fight to gain any real traction.
The Fight is Over – What Now?
So what about after the fight?
Things can go in all different directions immediately following the verbal fisticuffs with your spouse. The argument can lead to tears. Brooding and anger can remain under the surface and boil up into another fight. The discussion may have been diffused due to sheer exhaustion, leaving both parties fatigued and dazed. Or the couple may have ended the fight without resolving the issue leaving a bitter taste in the air.
I advocate that when a fight is over, give your spouse some time to process things for 10 to 15 minutes (maybe less time depending on the situation). Sometimes we need some personal time to ourselves to sort things out and work out some of the raging thoughts that could be left in our minds.
Once the emotions have settled back down and most, if not all of the ugly aftermath thoughts are gone, this is the time to allow your love for each other to come to the forefront. One or preferably both of you should be motivated to reach out and express your sincere regret for allowing things to break down to such an extent that a fight occurred.
Offering your sincerest regrets and express that you are sorry for the role you played in all the fussing and underscore the importance of not allowing conflict to rule your emotions in the future. This will help repair some of the damage done.
I encourage you to take a few moments and comment below on whatever marital experience you might be undergoing. I would like to hear from you and will be happy to respond!