To stop fighting with your spouse, start connecting from the heart.
Underneath most arguments is a deeper issue. You may think you’re fighting with your husband or wife about money, child rearing, household chores, or time spent with in-laws, but that’s just the surface. There’s a bigger dynamic taking place. Otherwise you wouldn’t be fighting – you’d be connecting and communicating in a loving way to resolve disputes.
Relationships go through several phases starting with the honeymoon phase where both parties are high on love chemicals that alter their perception of reality (in a very uplifting way). At some point a marriage enters the power struggle phase where couples work through control, dominance and empowerment issues. Not all couples move beyond this stage. Some get caught in a cycle of fighting and blame, others shut down and withdraw from each other, and many just end the marriage.
If two people take a closer look at the relationship dynamic they can heal their own issues and save their marriage at the same time.
Why Are You Fighting With Your Spouse?
Explore why and how you fight with your spouse as a way to increase awareness. From there you can make conscious choices on how to communicate. As you reflect on your typical marriage fights, explore the following questions:
What do you fight about? Are your fights about big issues such as finances and childrearing, or are they about small irritations such as how your husband leaves the toilet seat up, or your wife leaves hair in the bathroom sink? Who tends to start arguments? Who gets the last word?
What is the tone and mood of your disagreements? Is there a tone of criticism, attack, defensiveness, control, people pleasing, caretaking, victimhood? How does the tone and mood change during the argument?
What roles do you play? Reflect on how you feel during a typical argument. Do you feel like your nagging, controlling, pleading, manipulating, begging, criticizing, interrogating? Do you feel powerful or powerless? Sometimes we get caught in playing roles that aren’t who we really are. We may have picked these up from our parents, movies or society. What is your main role? What triggers you into your role? What role does your spouse play?
What do you really want? We choose roles and communication styles as a way to get our needs met. Perhaps nagging is the only way to get your spouse to help around the house. Or maybe controlling helps you to feel safe and secure in the relationship. Look underneath your role to see what it is you really want. Do you want to be heard, respected, paid attention to? Do you want to feel empowered, supported, loved? Do you want some down time, free time, balance? Get in touch with what’s really important to you and explore ways to give this to yourself. As you meet your own needs, you’ll put less pressure on your spouse to meet them.
As you uncover the deeper issues within your relationship, you can start connecting from a more authentic place.
Connect from the Heart
The next time an argument ensues, get out of your head (where judgment and blame live) and move into your heart. This will help you to get in touch with your truth and what’s really important. As you share your thoughts and opinions with your spouse, it may help to have a hand over your heart, or to feel into what your heart wants to say.
Instead of focusing on their behavior, tell your spouse what’s really bothering you. For example, you might say something like, “I feel like such a nag when I have to ask you to help with housecleaning. I love you and I don’t want to feel like this or treat you like a child. I want us to work together to create a household plan that works for both of us, and for each of us to take responsibility for our part. What do you want?”
Another example would be, “I feel so controlling when I ask you to come straight home from work, but when you work late most nights I feel lonely. I enjoy spending quality time with you. I miss snuggling, laughing and sharing our day together. Would you enjoy spending more time together?”
When your spouse responds, respect their thoughts and feelings. Your husband or wife may not have the same interests or priorities as you, so don’t take this personally. If you can communicate from the heart, you will find solutions. This will support you to connect through love and respect.
Do you have any questions or insights on how to stop fighting with your spouse and start connecting? Please share in the comment section.