First off, no one plans to have a disagreement with the person they love. We love who we love and we want to be in harmony with them. So why is it so hard for many of us to stop fighting in a relationship? Why is it that the fights pretty much determine whether a relationship will last or not?
Conflict is Inevitable in a Relationship; Fighting Doesn’t Have to Be
It would seem that fighting is just a part of being close to someone. That closeness brings about disagreements and misunderstandings and that just goes with the territory. But as a couple’s counselor who helps couples build better relationships, I hold a different view.
No relationship is without disagreements and misunderstandings. If you are vulnerable with another person, you are allowing that person to be close with you. When you are not understood in the way you feel you should be, or if something you expected from your mate did not occur even though you thought it should have because your mate is supposed to know you so well, then you are familiar with the terrain of a relationship. It hurts when our mates get it wrong.
Handling Hurt Feelings Without Fighting in Relationships
Sometimes it’s bumpy and sometimes it’s not. Let’s just learn what to do with those bumps. No relationships are perfect. Sometimes people tell me they never fight, but I have never met a couple who can claim they have never gotten their feelings hurt by their partner.
And that’s the key to understanding ourselves, our mate and how to improve a relationship. Everyone wants to feel happy and loved. When we get our feelings hurt we are probably NOT happy, and we might even forget that our partner loves us.
These are common patterns in most relationships. People expect to be understood by their mate. When that doesn’t happen then people feel taken advantage of, dismissed, ignored or even unloved. These feelings cause people to get mad at the person who caused them and that’s when fights occur.
Mindful Coping with Hurt Feelings in a Relationship
If you are human and you interact with others you WILL get your feelings hurt. That’s a given. There is no safe harbor anywhere to protect you from that. The key to having a good relationship though, is knowing that you will get hurt sometimes. That’s the beginning stage. The next step is to understand what you do when you get your feelings hurt. What action do you take?
Do you yell? Do you get quiet? Do you demand an explanation? These are common behaviors that accompany hurt feelings. You see it isn’t the feeling that causes the fight; it’s always the behavior that follows.
Moving From Impulsive Coping to Goal-Oriented Coping
Learn what you do after you get hurt. This one piece of information is almost enough for you to improve your relationship alone. Once you know what you do, then figure out if it get’s you what you need or want when you are in emotional pain.
Ask yourself, “What am I looking for when I get my feelings hurt?” Maybe you just want understanding. Maybe you want your partner to realize that you got wounded. It could be you want an apology. It might be that you want to talk about what happened to you and you want your partner to just listen.
Stop Fighting in a Relationship; Just Take Time to Process Feelings
You see these actions are specific. What you really want when you are hurt is VERY important. Getting what you need and want is how you will recover. When you know this you can ask for it, and asking for what you want and need can create a whole new pattern for you and your beloved.
- Understand your feelings.
- Learn your accompanying automatic behavior.
- Figure out what you might want from your mate.
- Ask for what you want in a loving way.
Now put all four steps together next time you have a fight. You may have to do step 1 before the next fight so you can avoid anything provocative that could cause an unwanted reaction from your mate. Look at this system as a new template for you and your partner. It’s just a different way, that’s all, just something new to try.
It is possible to decrease the fight zones between you and your mate. I know this to be true, not just because I teach it, but because I have learned it, and I live it, and it works.
More Ideas to Help You Stop Fighting in a Relationship
Read a Book with Communication Tips to Help Your Partner Stop Fighting
Can’t make it on Monday? You can learn more about how to fight with your partner less by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It’s full of relationship advice, including tips on how to communicate more positively. It may help you fight less and love more. Give it shot.
Get Couples Counseling
Come in for couples counseling. Couples counseling can help you and your loved one get the most out of your relationship. It'll equip you with coping strategies and tools for communication that can help you argue less and love more.