Human relationships are complicated. We each see the world in our own way, and it can be very difficult to learn the empathy required to fully appreciate another person’s experience. Given that fact it’s no wonder that we sometimes fight with the people closest to us. That being said, it’s difficult to say whether the fighting occurring in your marriage is “normal.”
Is Fighting Normal for a Marriage?
Everyone’s definitions are different, and you really need to discuss your relationship with a marriage counseling expert to understand if the conflict between you and your spouse is a sustainable part of your relationship or a sign of a developing issue that you can work on together.
Communication and Conflict
We’ve all heard the old adage about the importance of communication in a marriage, and there’s definitely something to be said for it. Sadly, we don’t always feel capable of fully expressing ourselves to our partners. You may suppress small moments of frustration or disappointment in order to avoid conflict, but you’re actually shutting down an opportunity to communicate. In many ways, those occasional fights you have with your partner are the resolution to that problem.
When one of you finally lets those suppressed feelings come to the surface, you’re initiating the communication you’ve been missing out on. Those fights are your chance to discuss your state of mind and your expectations. But it is also an opportunity for your partner to do the same. Therefore, it’s really important to evaluate the way you and your partner communicate during your fights. Doing so allows you to determine whether or not those fights are actually productive and healthy.
Fighting for Good
Experts agree that most marital fighting is perfectly normal. Every couple is different, but certain behaviors may occur during fights that ultimately undermine the communication that could be taking place otherwise. When infidelity, name-calling, ultimatums, or threats regularly feature in your fights it can be nearly impossible to actually hear what the other person is saying. Fortunately, counseling can really help to reshape the way you communicate while you’re under stress. Until your first appointment, there are a few things you can try.
It’s much harder to shape your behavior when you’re under extreme stress, as you probably are during a fight. To start making positive strides, you’ll want to begin with everyday communication. Instead of bottling up your emotions when you’re feeling frustrated or let down, find a constructive way to discuss those emotions and what caused them. It will take a lot of practice, but you can learn to explain your feelings without making your partner defensive. Keep your tone light, and avoid using accusatory language. The more you try to use those small moments as an opportunity to understand each other better, the less likely they will be to result in a fight.
Turning Fights into Conversations
While fighting is normal for a marriage, there is a balance to be struck. It’s easier said than done, but regular counseling can help you and your partner to restructure your fights. It will take a while. But you can gradually work towards giving each other the space you need to speak while really listening to what they need. Those conversations will help you to understand the complex emotions. Specifically, emotions that form the basis of the conflict that may sometimes surface. Soon you may have gotten to a place where you’re communicating well. Then you’ll notice that your fights are less stressful and more productive. That doesn’t mean the work is over, but you’ll be in a much better place overall.