Relationship fights can have many underlying causes and reasons, but recognizing the behavior that lead to argument and then finding new ways to change your communication patterns can avert many relationship arguments. By paying attention to when you fight, what you fight about, and how fights start, you can start to recognize the signs and intercede with some positive adjustments. But in order for it to work, partners must be willing to find the patterns and ready to make changes in order to end the fighting and improve the relationship.
Learn the Common Causes
Fights often occur after critical comments, which partners in the relationship take as an attack. When you are critical of your partner’s behaviors or feelings, they can take defensive reactions that start a cycle of name calling and hurtful words. Sometimes couples will make interpretations about their partner’s action or will question their intentions. Often, these fights have familiar roots, as couples find themselves fighting about the same thing over and over. These fights can be about money, the past, jealousy, sex or just a simple failure to communicate.
Ask Questions First
Instead of criticizing your partners feelings, try asking about them, without rendering judgment. This can turn the direction of an argument and get couples talking about themselves and to each other, which is a positive activity for a healthy relationship. Understand that interpreting actions by your partner may cause you to put blinders on about your own issues that you are bringing into the relationship.
Understand Your Own Triggers
While your partner may have had a bad day or some other underlying cause to lash out at you, it doesn’t mean that your actions haven’t served as a trigger as well. Blaming past circumstances or outside events doesn’t address your own role in the fight, where taking a more understanding approach to why you partner is upset can help break the cycle.
Change Your Communication Patterns
No matter what the cause, most relationship fights are breakdowns in communication between partners. One way to change these patterns is to add one new element to conversations that could lead to arguments, writes relationship columnist Martha Beck. By adding one caveat to any argument, it can diffuse the tension and bridge communication. For example, if you can only criticize your partner’s actions while doing headstands or question their intentions while wearing a trench coat or call them names while also doing jumping jacks, you can change the way you associate with the argument and find new behavior patterns. Beck writes that just the silliness of it can get you asking why you are fighting in the first place.
If you are unable to recognize patterns, change your communications patterns or find common ground, it may be time to seek couples counseling. These sessions can help you get answers, bring issues out into the open and get the relationship back on track. If you can’t work things out on your own, counselors have many ways to help couples explore their issues and find ways to address them and strengthen the relationship.