How To Have A Healthy Fight With Your Spouse
It seems like the best marriages are the ones where they say, “We never fight.” Or, that they, “Always get along and always agree.” But we’re here to say that these experiences are not healthy (and, they’re not realistic). You need to have conflict with your spouse, but in a way that DOESN’T destroy your relationship.
Maybe you avoid conflict because you don’t like it. Or maybe you don’t feel safe enough to voice your feelings or opinions. Whatever the reason may be, avoiding conflict causes you to mask your feelings, and stuff them down instead. Eventually, what you’ve been “stuffing down” will come to the surface as anger, resentment, or extremely negative emotions toward your spouse.
This is why it’s helpful to have healthy conflict in your marriage. Now, I’m NOT saying you should have terrible conflict with screaming, raging fights- that cannot help your relationship.
Rather, conflict where you’re speaking your mind (and maybe even disagreeing) is healthy. You can disagree with your spouse and still have a positive, successful relationship in the midst of the disagreement.
So what does healthy conflict look like? I’ll give you 3, KEY tips on how to have a healthy fight with your spouse. Keep reading to learn what these tips are.
3 Tips To Have A Healthy Fight With Your Spouse
1. Reframe Your Expectations
If you want to have a healthy fight with your spouse, you need to take your focus off of what you want (and what you want from your spouse). For example, most of the time, our goal when we approach our spouse about something is…
- to get them to agree with us
- to get them to do things our way
- to get them to stop doing something that they are doing
But, here’s the truth…
Conflict Isn’t About The Fight… It’s about AFTER the fight.
According to Dr. John Gottman, one of the leading researchers in relationships, the difference between great marriages and marriages that end in divorce isn’t what you’d think.
It’s NOT how often the couple fights.
It’s NOT how many times they have the same fight.
It’s NOT if the fight ever gets resolved.
Here’s what it IS: when both people in the relationship can still reconnect with their spouse in a positive way AFTER the fight. Fighting is not only normal, but it’s healthy for couples.
2. Realize Your Fight May Be About Something Deeper
I want you to realize that what you’re fighting about typically isn’t the real issue. (I know this from personal experience… )
For example, several years ago, my husband and I got into a pretty terrible fight about a toilet seat (!!) Now hear me out, I’m not at all passionate about toilet seats- there was a deeper issue that led to our fight.
The deeper issue stems from one spouse (or both spouses) not feeling liked, loved, or respected.
Here’s my encouragement to you, try not to focus on the one issue whatever it may be- laundry, cleaning, chores, schedules, etc. Instead, ask yourself, “What is the CORE issue we’re fighting about?”
3. Remember That You & Your Spouse Are On The Same Team!
Years of fighting and bad rules of engagement when it comes to having conflict in our marriage can lead us to forget we’re on the same team. However, the goal of having conflict is to be able to state your thoughts, feelings, opinions, AND feel heard and respected. (Even if an agreement doesn’t happen.)
You don’t have to agree about what you’re fighting about. You can respectfully disagree about something and figure out how to compromise so you can both get what you want and move forward.
Remember you aren’t trying to get your spouse to change their mind, you are simply sharing your thoughts. At the end of the day, you and your spouse are a team and you should root for each other.
What we’ve talked about today can be difficult for couples that have years of really bad fights- yelling, screaming, blaming, and embarrassment. However, each day, we help couples move forward from conflict. We teach them how to fight the right way in their marriage, how to overcome major hurts, and how to have a great marriage again!