So why do couples fight, argue and bicker? And why do they sometimes do it more often than at other times? Well, there are many reasons. Stress is the obvious big reason, and couples often conclude that they fight due to the inability to communicate, which is another reason. BUT, there is one reason that we almost always fail to recognize…
First, do you notice that we tend to look to negative reasons (which is understandable) why we are arguing more than normal. We see all the things we find challenging about our partner. My clients say things about their partner such as – “She complains all the time”, “He isn’t affectionate”, “She is always angry”, “He works too much”, “She doesn’t listen to me”, and “He isn’t fun anymore”.
These can be legitimate reasons to be upset with your partner; however, there is another reason for arguing that we do not explore.
How does day-to-day life create disconnection?
Do you and/or your partner feel tired or exhausted at the end of your workday? Do either of you experience stress at your work environment and/or your home, therefore irritable? Does parenting exhaust you? Is worry about finances constantly on your mind? Do you find that at the end of the day you have nothing left in you to give to anyone – not even yourself, therefore you feel irritable, angry and resentful? Do you have fears and anxiety that you cope with every day in your life?
It is challenging to feel close to one another when we only see each other when we are stressed, tired, worried and so on – things that we experience day-to-day.
As we go through our day-to-day lives, it is often the case that we see our partner more of than not when they are in a negative space rather than a positive one, which can lead us to forget what it is that we love about our partner. AND – we experience being hurt by each other therefore, increasing the challenge of feel close to one another.
These day-to-day interactions may cause us to feel disappointed with each other – which is inevitable simply because of the humanness in all of us.
Remember when you were dating? (I do and that was a long time ago!) When we date we see our partner during times of fun and excitement. We are excited in getting to know one another. We see them during times of excitement – our experiences are fun, friendly and overall enjoyable, and it’s easy to talk together. However, when we begin a life together, our lives become busy, overwhelming and stressful making it challenging to create opportunities to find the balance of working hard and having enjoyable times together.
Day-to-day life can create disconnection (which causes us to argue more often) because we see each other when we are stressed, unhappy, worried and so on. We don’t (or have limited opportunity to) take the time to do the thing things that shine a light on our positive traits. We don’t create the opportunities to see each other at our best. And you might even miss these aspects of you, and of course, your partner!
I am NOT suggesting that viewing our partner who endures stress, worry and so on should be viewed as unattractive. Connection can deepen by responding to our partner with empathy and compassion!
And I’m not suggesting that you hide your stress and worries – being authentic about what we go through in life is necessary.
I am suggesting that you work toward finding additional ways to meet each other’s needs in a positive light.
Ask yourself these questions:
At this moment, what is the strength of our connection with one another? Does it change day-to-day? Why and how does it change?
This is important: When our connection is strong it allows us to feel less agitated and less likely to quickly turn to anger with our partner. And when our connection is strong, we are open to accept things about our partner that we don’t always like about them.
Think of it this way – strong connection is like a thick rope that connects the two of you, while a fragile connection is a thin thread (easily broken which leads to fighting, arguing and bickering) between the two of you. The goal in your relationship is to work at maintaining a strong connection. You will not always be able to do so simply due to the daily challenges of life; however, working at staying in connection is necessary.
What connects the two of you?
Do you know what it is that makes you feel close and connected with your partner? It’s different for everyone.
For me, I need quality time with my husband. And I need him to be present (not distracted with other issues) when we spend time together.
I also feel close to him when he listens with an empathic and compassionate ear. This has not always come easy for him but I appreciate that he works at it.
An Important Example:
My client expressed to me that he and his wife fight frequently. They work hard, have three small children and love each other very much. I asked him “What do you do to stay close and connected?” He said that they don’t have time go out together.
We talked about everything that I just shared with you in this blog. He said, “Yeah, but she gets upset with me even if I sleep in a few minutes more in the morning when we need to get the kids ready for school. Sometimes I take over with the kids so that she can get a bit more sleep! How will spending time together help that kind of anger?”
I explained that when you feel close with your partner, you can ignore the small things – I described the thin thread of connection vs. a thick rope of connection. When there is a strong bond of closeness and connection, she will look at him sleeping in and respond from a strong loving connection. She will be able to say, “Awwww, he’s tired – let him sleep in a bit.” Because when you work on staying in connection, there is much less anger, bitterness and craving for closeness.
For these reasons, it is even more important to work on connection. Sometimes we forget that we need to work at staying in connection.
Something to keep in mind:
It is understandable that the challenges of life swallow us up. And it is equally understandable that we share our stresses in life with our partner because we crave, need and deserve an empathic and compassionate ear.
At the same time, it is equally important to share positive aspects about your day with your partner (I also enjoy sharing funny dog videos with my husband, it makes us laugh together). Sharing a funny video creates moments of positivity.
I question if many hold back sharing the positive because we first need what we go through to be heard, acknowledged and validated. After we feel heard, it frees us up to share the good stuff. Perhaps we can begin conversations by stating that we are going to share the bad and the good parts of our day! But try to find a balance in sharing with your partner. And always work at finding ways to strengthen your connection with one another!
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If you want to learn more about relationships – I wrote this for you “Ten Essential Things I’ve Learned About Marriage & Relationships” I’ve included the lesson that saved my marriage. I care about the work that I put out to you, and I hope you find it helpful. Let me know!
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Details of any stories told in my blogs have been changed to protect the identity of people that I work with in therapy.
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