6 Ways To Stop Fighting as a Couple
Couples fight about a lot of different things.
Different surveys consistently identify the common factors in an argument. The big ones include money, sex, in-laws, housework, or raising children.
How the fight starts is one thing. To resolve the matter you need to know what you are fighting for.
Fights usually have a lot of negative emotions attached to it. When you fight, you are looking to remedy that negative emotional state.
Slowing things down to think about what you are fighting for can help in a number of ways.
Switching from heated reactivity to thoughtful deliberation can not only calm emotions. It can help define what needs to be done. And it can help eliminate the issue spilling into unrelated topics and stop you from thinking “What were we arguing about?”
Recent research has found 6 ways to stop fighting as a couple.
It turns out that what people want is power, not apologies. While that might sound bad at first, the answer is less about power acquisition and more about shared control in the relationship.
We can all agree that nobody likes fights. Identifying the paths to resolution can make the process smoother.
Keith Sanford is an associate professor of psychology from Baylor University. His area of study deals with couple conflict and communication.
His research – published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology – revealed 6 ways to stop fighting as a couple. Here they are, ordered from what a partner wanted most out of a conflict to what they wanted least.
- Relinquished power
- To show investment
- To stop adversarial behavior
- To communicate more
- To give affection
- To make an apology
It’s important to note that giving up power can mean a lot of different things. It can be as simple as showing respect or willingness to compromise. Admitting faults or giving a partner more independence can also accomplish this.
Keith elaborates on the findings:
“We definitely respond to whether we gain or lose status. When we feel criticized, we are likely to have underlying concerns about a perceived threat to status, and when that happens, we usually want a partner simply to disengage and back off.”
What You Really Really Want
The study points to the fact that an apology might not be the most effective way to resolve the argument. You or your partner might be seeking something more in terms of closure. Keith comments:
“The things couples want from each other during conflicts will depend on their underlying concerns, and to resolve conflicts, they may need to use different tactics to address different underlying concerns.”
So knowing what really caused the fight is important. You can check out more about underlying concerns here.
If the concern falls under the category of “perceived threat” Keith’s research shows resolutoins involve passively disengaging. This includes stopping adversarial behavior and relinquishing power.
For the other category of “perceived neglect” find that a partner wants active engagment. Things like showing investment, communicating more, and giving affection.
This can help you develop a plan to resolve the matter and address your needs, or the needs of your partner. Having the right strategy is important.
“The husband might buy flowers, and that might be helpful if his partner has a concern involving perceived neglect. But if the partner has a concern involving perceived threat, then the flowers won’t do much to address the issue.”
Summing It Up
Fights suck. But they are also a normal part of being in a relationship.
Understanding what the argument is about and knowing how to best come to resolution can give you a road map through the adversity that takes some of the heartache out of the process.
And in the end, it can help you accomplish what really maters.
Connecting and caring about the person you are with.