How Fights and Arguments Damage your Marriage pt. 3

In part three of How Fights and Arguments Damage Your Marriage, marriage counselor Geoffrey Bullock discusses why avoiding talking about emotional issues can be as harmful to your marriage as fighting. Also covered, why dealing with fighting and arguing quickly is not only easier to resolve, but also essential to prevent them from occurring more often.

- Asheville Marriage Counseling Length: 05:29
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How fights and Arguments Damage Your Marriage (Part 3)

Those neurological pathways in our brain that fire off together in a similar situation, they tend to get connected. And it’s one of the ways it can become increasingly difficult for us to avoid getting into a fight with our in our marriage over something we’re upset about it, once that’s the pattern that starts to get established.

Now I said that often times I see this with clients I’m counseling and it breaks my heart, because it could’ve been avoided. And often that has to do with married couples who have allowed this pattern to start and repeat itself for years. In fact research shows that most couples will wait between six and seven years of having problems in their marriage before they seek outside help, like a marriage counselor.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way and that’s why I feel so saddened for some of these couples; because when it started they loved each other. They really wanted to be together. And their fighting and not knowing how to manage disagreements, being repeated over time, resulted in (as we said earlier) more and more experience of disconnection.

And if you remember that ratio of five experiences of feeling connected to one experience of feeling disconnected – well, when you begin having more frequent fights not only are you loading up on the negative side – but, you become less inclined to do the things that form connection and nurturance and enhance the foundation of your marriage.

There’s also one other element of this… that is kind of a sneaky backdoor way this fighting pattern can disrupt the foundation of a marriage. Many couples I work with have tried with the best of intentions to avoid getting into fights. But, the way that they often do this is to “tip toe around the topics”. They don’t address the topics directly anymore, because they’re concerned it’s going to trigger an emotional reaction between their partner and themselves and they’ll end up having a fight.

But, unfortunately adopting indirect ways of trying to approach your spouse on issues that are important to you; hinting… or making suggestions… or backdoor ways of approaching them… can feel to you like you presented it to your partner. But, they’re often clueless.

And so it can not only sometimes feel like you’re being rejected, because you been reaching out to them (but not directly in a way that they can understand); but the second part of that is it fosters a belief “I can’t have a trusting connection with my partner when were facing difficulties (in our marriage)”.

And it’s very difficult to have a loving connection with your partner, if you can’t talk about the things that are bothering you. And as we said at the beginning, having a way of working together in a collaborative fashion to manage the differences is necessary to avoid fights in marriage.

And that’s one of the buzz phrases or key concepts that I use as a marriage counselor with couples… is that we are shifting away from a win/ lose posture to an acceptance that ‘we have a difference here’. We’re both coming at it from a place of integrity, but we don’t come to the same conclusion. So then how can we manage our differences together, rather than moving into the more common posture of “how can I convince you that you are wrong” or “how can I convince you that my way is right?”

That approach creates the separation and the negative harmful feelings towards our spouse that can eventually tear away at the foundation of a marriage and can ultimately end up with so little connection, that it feels like you’re fighting all the time. And that’s when couples end up coming to me and saying “I don’t know if I even want to invest the energy into the marriage, because there’s so little affection and connection left”. Or perhaps the other side of that equation, so much resentment and so much acrimony has build up that they’ve created a huge gulf between them; because of not knowing how to manage their differences in a cooperative way.

So, the point of this video was to emphasize that fighting in marriage, when it becomes a pattern and starts to become repeated, can be very, very, detrimental to the foundations of your marriage.

And my strong encouragement to you, if that’s starting to happen for you, is take the steps to nip that in the bud. Take the steps to find a way to manage your differences constructively as soon as fighting and arguing starts to occur.

Because otherwise, more likely than not, the default will be that fighting will increase. And the more it increases the harder it is to sustain that connection and loving affectionate relationship, which is what you really want from your marriage or from being with your partner.

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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