What Do Couples Fight About–and What Can We Do About It?


What do couples fight about? Learn why couples just like this one wind up frustrated and sad.

What do couples fight about?” It’s not uncommon for couples to fight and argue with each other, so it’s natural to wonder why. As a couples counselor, I most often help people with communication issues.

People in relationships commonly argue about the same things. Although the way couples argue belongs to the two people who are in the relationship, the content of what they are arguing about is often the same.

Most Couples Fight About These Unmet Emotional Needs

Most couples fight about the unmet emotional needs of the people in it. For example, if someone feels sad and unimportant, like the woman pictured, the couple will need to work through it.

People want to feel valued, listened to and understood by their partner, and to matter to them as well. That’s about it. And when these feelings get triggered by something like someone not feeling valued, their partner not seeming interested in what they had to say, or like they were dismissed entirely, well then there are hurt feelings.

Hurt feelings cause many of us to tell our partners that they hurt us. How we communicate this means everything. If we tell our partner, “You hurt my feelings!”

The partner may feel blamed, accused or criticized. Then the partner might want to defend against the accusation and then there is an argument and a fight. The person who got hurt is still hurt. The partner who was blamed is defending themselves so they don’t take responsibility. The fight is about how the message was delivered, not the message itself.

Couples Don’t Want to Fight; They Just Want to Heal

Regardless of what couples fight about, most people just want to heal and be reunited with their loved one, like the couple pictured apologizing so they can reconnect and return to love.

What the partner who got hurt really wants is healing. Not a war. Unfortunately, many of us don’t really learn how to interact with our partners. So, we all grow up learning how to be an individual, but where do we learn how to interact with another person on a close basis?

We don’t. We usually just assume that if we love them and they love us then everything will just work out. As a couple’s counselor and someone who went to couple’s counseling before I was a therapist, I can state that we must learn how to interact with the person we love.

When someone does something we don’t like, most of us just tell the person that we don’t like it. This is hard on the person hearing it because we want to feel valued, listened to and understood by our partners, and to matter to them too.

Couples Fight Less By Communicating Gently

Communicating gently and without blame or judgement can help couples reconnect and last for a long time, like the happy, senior couple pictured.

If we are told our partner doesn’t like what we are doing, we might feel unloved and disrespected. So, what do we do with those feelings? We have to learn how to share our feelings without blame, accusations, or criticism.

And communicating with our partners that way isn’t something that we learn going up as an individual. People argue because they feel like they’re not getting what they should in their relationship and because most people don’t know how to ask for what they really want.

We want to know our partner loves us and cares for us even if they hurt us without knowing. We must learn how to express our hurts without making our partner the bad guy. This is very delicate because we have to become vulnerable and most of us don’t really know how.

Arguing is the easy way out, but the truth of arguing and fighting is that it never solves what we really want. Becoming vulnerable with the one we love shows them our soft side, and our partners love that part. I promise.


Ready to Fight Less and Reconnect More Effectively?

Read a Book About Relationships

'Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship.' A book by Linda Nusbaum.

Learn how to improve communication in your relationship, by reading Linda’s book, Safe. Happy. Loved. Simple Skills for Your Relationship. It might just help both of you feel more connected, aligned, and loved. Give it a read.

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.

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