I love to talk about love – even some of the darker parts of coupledom like arguments, fights, and problems. After all, without the dark we wouldn’t have the light! Most of us don’t realize there are patterns to how we fight. Your arguments might be more common than you think. There are really just five reasons most couples fight.
Here are the five most common issues over which couples fight:
- Free time
- Physical intimacy
- Extended family
More important than the issues over which we fight is the way to turn fights into positives. Here are six ways you can use the science of couples to help your relationship:
1. Adopt a new mindset.
How to fight better: I want us to shift the focus to fighting better as opposed to fighting less. Why? Fighting better is about having discussions, not arguments. It is about respectfully hearing one another.
2. Identify the issues.
One of the most interesting discussions I have ever had with my husband was identifying our “perpetual issues.” We sat down and thought about the problems and topics and looked at the patterns. The main issues keep coming up – they need to be identified.
3. Localize, don’t globalize.
One reason that little arguments can erupt so quickly is that a small disagreement can be tagged into one of your larger arguments and immediately explode into the big fight. Avoid saying things like, “You always . . .” or “You never . . .” Don’t focus on the big picture nor the past. Focus on the local issues.
4. Start with agreement.
If a gridlocked issue comes up on a daily basis and you need to approach it, start with agreement. Successful couples master gentleness. They start with their common purpose, what they want to achieve as a family.
5. Look beyond the argument.
This is the hardest one to do. It is also the most important. Sometimes there are underlying issues beneath the gridlock. Think about what is happening behind the argument. This will help you to turn the situation to an exploratory discussion, rather than antagonistic.
6. Choose acceptance.
Knowing that your issues and where you stand can help you avoid having the same argument over and over again. Agreeing to disagree and naming the issue can prevent arguments in the future. Acceptance means placing a higher value on the person than the position.
About the Author
Vanessa Van Edwards is a marriage expert and the author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People.