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Many couples come to me because they are exhausted of repeating the same cycle of fighting and conflict in their relationship.
Of course, conflict is a natural part of any relationship, but it’s less about how often we fight and more about how we resolve these arguments that really matters. Constant fighting is obviously going to be detrimental. It can erode trust and hugely affect the well-being of both involved. You will eventually feel less understood, less supported and less appreciated in this environment, so in this article, we’ll explore the causes of fighting, why it becomes a repetitive cycle, and provide you with 7 ways to prevent these fights happening in the first place and 7 ways to stop fighting in the future.
The Causes of Fighting
Fighting in a relationship can be triggered by various factors, and it’s crucial to identify these root causes before addressing the issue.
Here are some common causes of relationship conflicts:
Poor Communication: One of the leading causes of fighting in relationships is poor communication. When partners struggle to express themselves effectively or actively listen to each other, misunderstandings and frustration can quickly escalate into heated arguments.
Unresolved Issues: Lingering unresolved issues from the past can resurface in current conflicts. Unaddressed grievances and unhealed wounds often lead to repeated fights.
Expectations and Assumptions: When partners have unspoken or unrealistic expectations, it can lead to disappointment and arguments. Making assumptions about each other’s thoughts and intentions can also be a breeding ground for disputes.
Stress and External Pressures: External stressors such as work, finances, and family problems can take a toll on a relationship. Stress can cause individuals to be more irritable and less patient, increasing the likelihood of fighting.
Lack of Quality Time: Neglecting quality time together can lead to feelings of neglect or disconnection. When partners feel neglected, they may resort to arguments as a way to seek attention or express their dissatisfaction.
The Cycle of Fighting
Understanding the cycle of fighting is essential to break the pattern of constant conflicts. Typically, the cycle begins with a trigger or disagreement, escalates into a full-blown argument, and then may temporarily resolve through the natural course of time or one person trying to ‘keep the peace’ by brushing feelings under the carpet.
However, without addressing the underlying issues, the cycle will repeat. Understanding this cycle can help us to start to make sense of it so we can instead choose a different path:
Trigger: The trigger can be a disagreement, a difference in opinion, or a frustrating incident. This initial spark leads to an argument.
Escalation: As emotions intensify, the argument escalates. Communication may become hostile, and partners may say hurtful things to each other.
Peak of Conflict: At the peak of the conflict, partners may be emotionally overwhelmed. They might engage in shouting, blame, or even emotional withdrawal.
Temporary Resolution: After the intense fight, there may be a temporary resolution. This could involve apologies, compromises, or simply a brief cooling-off period.
Repetition: Without addressing the root causes, the cycle tends to repeat. Unresolved issues resurface, leading to more fights in the future.
7 Ways to Prevent Fighting
Preventing fights is crucial to maintaining a healthy and harmonious relationship. Jordan Peterson has a really interesting recommendation to Halt Relationship Drift: 90 Minutes a Week Rule.
To add to that, here are seven strategies to prevent conflicts before they escalate:
1️⃣ Open and Honest Communication: Foster a safe environment for open and honest communication. This might involve deciding a time that works for you both to have calmer conversation. Encourage your partner to share their thoughts and feelings, and actively listen without judgement. Clear, respectful communication can reduce misunderstandings and prevent arguments.
2️⃣ Set Realistic Expectations: Discuss your expectations with your partner and ensure they are realistic. Unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment and frustration. By aligning your expectations, you can avoid unnecessary conflicts.
3️⃣ Quality Time Together: Make an effort to spend quality time together, whether it’s through date nights, shared hobbies, or simple conversations. This helps maintain emotional connection and reduces feelings of neglect.
4️⃣ Conflict Resolution Skills: Learn and practice effective conflict resolution skills. This includes the ability to compromise, apologise, and forgive. Having these skills in your relationship toolkit can prevent minor disagreements from turning into major battles.
5️⃣ Manage Stress: External stressors can contribute to relationship conflicts. Find ways to manage stress together, such as exercising, meditating, or seeking counselling. Addressing stress as a team can strengthen your bond.
6️⃣ Seek Professional Help: If the cycle of fighting is relentless and damaging your relationship, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist or counsellor. They can provide guidance and tools to break the cycle.
7️⃣ Regular Check-Ins: Make a habit of regularly checking in with each other to discuss any concerns or issues in your relationship. This proactive approach can help address problems before they escalate.
Why not try these 3 positive exercises to boost your relationship.
7 Ways to Stop Fighting
If you’re already caught in the cycle of fighting, it’s not too late to break free from it. Here are seven ways to stop fighting and restore harmony in your relationship:
1️⃣ Take a Time-Out: When an argument is escalating, take a break to cool off. This can prevent further escalation and give both partners a chance to collect their thoughts. Agree on a time when you both feel comfortable to speak calmly.
2️⃣ Empathise with Your Partner: Try to see the situation from your partner’s perspective. Empathy can defuse tension and lead to better understanding.
3️⃣ Use “I” Statements: Instead of blaming your partner with “you” statements, express your feelings and concerns using “I” statements. For example, say, “I feel hurt when…” instead of “You always…”
4️⃣ Practice Active Listening: Give your partner your full attention when they’re speaking. Reflect back what you’ve heard to ensure you understand their feelings and thoughts accurately.
5️⃣ Agree to Disagree: Not all disagreements need to end with one person being right and the other wrong. It’s okay to agree to disagree and move on without a resolution.
6️⃣ Forgive and Let Go: Holding onto grudges and past mistakes can fuel future fights. Practice forgiveness and let go of past grievances to move forward.
7️⃣ Couples Sessions: If you’re unable to break the cycle of fighting on your own, consider couples counselling. A therapist, coach or counsellor can help you address deeper issues and teach you effective communication and conflict resolution techniques.
In any relationship, conflicts are bound to arise, but constant fighting can damage the foundation of your partnership.
By addressing the root causes of fighting, understanding the cycle of conflict, and implementing proactive resolution strategies, you can work towards a healthier, more harmonious relationship.
Open and honest communication, empathy, and learning effective conflict resolution skills are key elements in stopping the cycle of fighting and nurturing a loving, lasting partnership.
Remember, it’s never too late to make positive changes and create a peaceful, thriving relationship.
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