How Fights and Arguments Damage your Marriage

Of course, having fights and arguments in your marriage is unpleasant.

But, repeated arguing also actually causes serious harm to the very foundations of your marriage… the very things that brought you together. In this video series, marriage counselor Geoffrey Bullock, LCSW explains how allowing fights and arguments to continue forms new patterns in our brains, automatically making them MORE likely to reoccur.

- Asheville Marriage Counseling Length: 05:52
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How Fights and Arguments Damage your Marriage (part one)

Hello I’m Geoffrey, a marriage counselor with Asheville Marriage Counseling.

In this video I’m going to spend some time talking about fights and arguments and how they can be very detrimental and damaging to the foundations of your marriage.

Now I’m a ‘counselor type’, so that means it usually I talk in terms of “possibilities, it could be… it appears that it might…” in other words, I do a lot of ‘cushioning’ of what I say, because I’m leaving room for the differences between individuals.

But, in this particular video I’m going to be fairly direct. Because, I see this happen every day. Married couples who have been having difficulties managing their differences… that has led them to fighting over their differences… and (they) have ended up allowing it to occur over time in a way that has caused so much resentment and animosity and hurt in their relationship – that it has put their marriage in jeopardy. Sometimes that gap become so wide they can’t close it.

And it breaks my heart, because often times I see it they had learned how to manage these differences sooner, they very likely could have maintained the connection and their love in their marriage.

So to get at this. That’s what I want to start.

When you think about what you want from a loving marriage partner. What are the kinds of things that come to mind? When I ask clients about this I hear some pretty similar things. They usually talk about it:

• “I want to have a sense of connection.”
• “I want to feel somebody has my back.”
• “I want grow together.”
• “Be building a future together.”
• “I want them to know me.”

And those are all honorable things and then the primary reasons that we form relationships or marry.

So let’s look at fighting and arguments within that context. When we get into a disagreement with our marriage partner what we are really facing is two individuals who come to a different conclusion on an issue. They have a different belief, or a different approach, or preference on how to handle something. That occurs with all couples, because we are fundamentally two individuals who are coming together and sharing our lives.

The difficulty that often happens, is because we feel our conclusion (internally) makes so much sense to us, we tend to ascribe a “Capital T” truth to the idea. In other words, we believe it is the one right answer.

In reality, we often times have people come up with different answers who have followed the same process of scrutiny and consideration… and acting with integrity. It’s very possible for you and your marriage partner to come up with different conclusions – that you both feel strongly about if it’s an important issue. And neither one of them is a capital T truth. It’s a just matter that you both have come to a different conclusion.

So in a healthy dynamic, in a marriage that works well, you’re able to face “well we’ve come to a different conclusion and since we’re a couple and were choosing to be together; how are we going to work together to manage this?” How are we going to work together to deal with the fact that we have differences? That is a collaborative process.

To go down the other road, which is more common (and part of that is because neurologically, the way our brain functions, were predisposed to act this way). The other road is to insist that YOUR way is right. Or to hold the belief (which is very common), “because I feel this to be so obviously true, it must be that my spouse is missing something. And if I can just help them figure out the piece that they are missing, then they will see that my answer is obviously the best answer.

Now that’s so common. And again it’s an honorable position, because people are genuinely feeling that their answer is the best answer. The difficulty is if your marriage partner is having the same experience. And the way you engage that is by trying to convince each other where you’re right and they’re wrong.

Once you’ve taken that step you have shifted away from collaborating on how we’re going to manage this difference in a cooperative way – into really a right/wrong dynamic, or another way to look at that is a win/lose dynamic.

Now think about this in the context of what you really want from your marriage. If you want connection and you want collaboration… and you want to feel somebody has your back. What’s likely to occur when you are engaging with your spouse from a position of “I’m right therefore, you have to be wrong?” Or “I’m going to win this argument.” Well, if I’m going to win this argument – that means you have to lose.

Its very nature sets up polarizing… a competitive dynamic or posture with each other… that is exactly the opposite of what is beneficial and helpful for feeling connection in your marriage and feeling like a team.

Learn how one fight can damage your marriage over and over in part two.
Presenter: Geoffrey Bullock, LCSW

Geoffrey is a marriage counselor with Asheville Marriage Counseling, located in Asheville, NC. Free initial consultations are offered for potential marriage counseling clients in Asheville and surrounding areas.


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