When Couples Argue


Sometimes when I see couples they are a little embarrassed to tell me how they communicate with each other, especially when they are in a heated argument.  They often blame the other for making them feel so terrible. I usually hear something like, “He always does this,” “She never stops doing that.”

Both people are locked in their pattern of responding to the other.  These patterns cement over time.  When people get to the end of their rope they say the most emphatic thing to the other person so they can to be heard.  Sometimes it’s really harsh.  And when a couple gets to this point they are locked in dueling tirades.

They might sound something like this.  “You blank, blank, blank.  You make me so blank mad.  I hate you.  I wish you were dead.  I wish we never met.”  Both people are yelling curse words at each other and it’s as explosive as it can get.

Maybe one person does the yelling one time and the other person yells another time.  Maybe this is your pattern.  What ever your particulars, I know that you will feel terrible after it’s over. 

No one likes yelling. No one feels terrific about him or herself after yelling at their mate.  You might feel a little bit of release from the pent up anger, but I have never met a person who actually likes this behavior.  Most people I meet are embarrassed about it.  Why embarrassment?  Because everyone who yells knows deep down inside that it’s wrong. 

No one wins when someone yells.  Every one feels terrible.

I worked with a couple recently.  They were civil to each other inside the therapy room. But I got a glimpse of the kind of arguing they do when they are at the end of their rope.  It’s as bad as it gets, each hurling the worst cursing insults at the other.  They came to therapy a few times.  But I never got the sense that they were really in it. 

Sometimes people think that one, or two sessions will change things.  If they don’t feel better they assume that the therapy isn’t working and then they might rationalize, “We can live with the situation here at home.  It’s bad, but we can live with it.”

And they can.  Each couple knows what they can handle.  I just know that couples who learn about themselves and understand that they are fighting because their needs have not been met, are a lot happier in their relationships.  I know that when couples allow the therapy to work they feel better. They figure out different ways to communicate and they eliminate the harmful dueling.

Some couples are looking for the magic answer.  The answer doesn’t come from me, I know that the answers live inside each person in the relationship; all that’s needed is a guide.

Send me your comments at linda@lindanusbaum.com

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