Why Do We Keep Fighting Even Though We Love Each Other? 7 Steps To Stop Fighting With Your Partner
Fighting with someone you love can be one of the most heartbreaking situations. You want to stop fighting with your partner but you can’t seem to figure out how. Instead of breaking up, or separating to cool off, let us share with you how to stop the bickering and get back to loving on one another.
Disagreeing, fighting, bickering, or whatever your label of choice is not only common in intimate relationships, but when done properly can lead to a deeper connection between the two of you. In order for that to happen, you both have to have the same goal in mind.
Conflict is a natural occurrence in all relationships, and when you understand the common stages that all relationships go through you will have a clearer vision on where you and your partner are, and how to reconnect and bring the romance back.
Understanding The Stages Of Relationship Creates A Roadmap For Reconnection
In order to stop fighting with your partner and rekindle the romance between the two of you, you’ll need to know how to navigate through the stages of your relationship.
When you first come together, there is attraction, the discovery of common interests, the excitement of sex, and all the other good stuff that two people can share together. This is the Romance Stage of relationship, and it is a chemical high.
Both of your brains are being flooded with feel-good chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine that stimulate the pleasure centers of your brain and create a feeling of excitement.
In this stage, the two of you are mainlining love like an addict mainlines heroin.
This stage is so important because it bonds the two of you, and ultimately puts fuel in the tank of the relationship so you can continue further down the path toward lasting love.
Unfortunately, these chemicals wear off over time, and when they do, there is a natural hangover. This is the beginning of the Power Struggle Stage of relationship.
At the beginning, there is the excitement of discovering someone new. “Wow, this person is different from me. This is exciting!” When the chemicals wear off and the Power Struggle kicks in, you discover yourself thinking, “Wow, this person is different from me. If only he/she would do things my way we would get along so much better!”
Another aspect of the Power Struggle that is important to understand is that each of you is being triggered into your core wounds. Even though it may appear that this person is the problem, the real problem is that your subconscious mind is seeing his behavior through the core wound of your childhood experiences.
The Power Struggle Stage Reveals The Deeper Reasons For The Conflict
If the two of you argue about the dishes and who does them and how they are done, the argument isn’t really about the dishes.
Your side of the argument may be that you were raised by a controlling mother, and his criticism of how you load the dishwasher triggers a feeling in you that he is trying to control you.
His side of the argument may be that he didn’t feel respected as a little boy, and your criticism of how he does the dishes triggers a feeling of disrespect inside of him.
Neither of your issues is really about the dishes. The argument over the dishes is simply a catalyst for your childhood wounds to be triggered.
There is a way out of the power struggle and into the third stage of relationship – the Stability Stage. This third stage of relationship occurs when the two of you stop fighting each other and start fighting for the relationship. In order to stop fighting with your partner, you’ll have to make a conscious choice to approach conflict in a new way.
When you learn to fight for the relationship, you’re ready for the next stage, the Commitment Stage. This is where you are ready for a deeper, long-term commitment. This stage starts when you feel like you don’t need your partner to change. You accept him as he is warts and all and you decide to love him anyway, and he feels the same about you.
The final stage is the Bliss Stage or Co-Creation Stage. This is where the love between the two of you is so strong that you decide to create something larger than just the two of you. In younger couples, this is a great time to start a family. In older couples this can mean taking your love into the world through a philanthropic cause, creating a foundation, volunteer work, or fostering children or pets.
In order to stop fighting with your partner, you have to be able to get past the Power Struggle stage and into the Stability Stage. This transition is one of the most powerful steps you can take as a couple and create a bond that lasts a lifetime.
Let’s Look At 7 Steps To Stop Fighting With Your Partner And Start Creating A Deeper Connection
Learn How To Stop A Fight From Escalating So That The Two Of You Can Reconnect
If you’re stuck in a quarrel cycle and really want to stop fighting with your partner, you first have to learn how to calm yourself down and prevent an argument from escalating or falling into a cold war.
Realize that when you are in an argument you are triggered and your mind has gone into survival mode. Your big powerful pre-frontal cortex has gone offline and your fight/flight/freeze system has taken over. All of your strategies while triggered are designed to keep you safe and are detrimental to creating connection with your partner.
First, recognize that you are triggered into survival mode and you need to take a break. You may need to create a signal or phrase with your partner to request a break from the argument. This break should have a time frame. Leaving it open-ended can create an extended cold war from the argument where the two of you are not openly fighting, but you are withholding love and affection from each other.
During this break, you’ll want to actively work to calm your nervous system. Instead of using the time to refine your arguments about why you are right and your partner is wrong, take the time to reconnect with yourself and calm down.
One effective technique is to place one or both hands on your heart as you inhale and exhale to a count of 5. Continue doing this until you feel your heart rate slow and your body calm down.
Find Neutral Ground To Meet With Your Partner
When you have calmed your nervous system you’ll want to have an agreed spot to reconnect with your partner. Over time this spot will develop positive associations and a subconscious understanding that you’ve come together to reconnect and repair.
If you are home, a great place to start the reconnection process is on a couch. You can sit facing away from each other or facing toward each other, and when you are ready to reconnect your partner is right there next to you.
In order to stop fighting with your partner, create rules about how you communicate when you come to the agreed-upon space. Agree to allow each other to speak without interrupting. Take your time if you feel yourself getting triggered again and remember to breathe.
This is the time for the two of you to begin the process of de-escalating the argument and to start reconnecting.
Take Responsibility For What Belongs To You, And Don’t Blame Your Partner For Your Wounds
From the example above: He didn’t create your fear of being controlled, and you didn’t create his fear of being disrespected.
When you stop blaming your partner for a wound that existed long before he came along, you are able to step into responsibility. From the seat of responsibility, you can find your way through to deeply connect with one another.
What bothers you about your partner is something that is already inside of you. This is “The Funhouse Mirror Effect.” You don’t recognize that your partner is really a reflection of yourself and your wounds. The image is distorted just like inside a funhouse at the fair.
To stop fighting with your partner own your wounds and stop blaming your partner for being triggered.
Have Compassion For Your Partner’s Childhood Wounds And Your Own
Want to transform your relationship and stop fighting with your partner? Realize that you and your partner are not actually arguing about each other. Instead, you are working to heal childhood wounds.
Seeing the little boy in him and the little girl in you brings a completely new perspective about what is really going on in in the subtext of your arguments.
If you were able to go back in time and see your partner as a little boy, you would find an infinite amount of compassion for everything he went through.
When your partner is triggered, imagine him as that little boy who is hurt or scared. He is using the best strategy he has for coping with the current situation. When you see him this way, it becomes easy to see his behavior for what it is – an old pattern – and from this perspective you do not take his behavior personally.
Triggering events put you into a fight/flight/freeze response. Literally your big, beautiful, conscious mind goes offline, and the reptilian, animal brain takes over. You are no longer resourceful, intelligent human beings capable of solving problems. Instead, you are animals trying to protect yourselves and need to feel safe.
The same idea is true for you when you are triggered. Seeing yourself as the little girl who is doing the best she can with limited resources opens you up to compassion for yourself, which then will allow you to reconnect with your partner.
Use “I” Language, Not “You” Language When Communicating Your Feelings
One of the easiest ways to trigger a defensive response from someone is to say “You make me so angry!” (Or replace anger with whatever emotion you usually are triggered into.)
The truth is you are the one who is in control of your emotional life. No one can make you feel anything. It’s not like he’s holding a gun to your head and saying, “Feel angry or I’ll shoot!”
Your emotional responses are yours. Own them, especially when you are sharing them with your partner.
Sharing with your partner in this way, “I feel angry when I imagine that someone is trying to control me,” allows you to take responsibility for your own emotions and for the history of your wounds. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter who the other person is, this is your habitual response when you feel that someone is attempting to control you.
Communicating in this way allows your partner to hear you rather than hearing your feelings as an attack. Stop fighting with your partner by owning your emotional responses and taking responsibility for your reactions.
Clean Up Your Emotional Messes Before They Become Too Big Of A Problem To Talk About Easily
One of the least useful sayings in our culture about conflict in relationships is the phrase, “Pick your battles.”
First off, you are not in a war with your partner so any disagreement is not a battle to be fought, or a war to be won.
Also, when you hold onto something because you think it’s not a big deal and you don’t want to seem like a difficult person, your emotions can build up inside until you cannot contain them anymore.
Holding onto little things and letting them build up over time sets the stage for you to finally erupt like a volcano. It doesn’t feel good to you, and both you and your partner are covered in lava and feeling burned.
Develop a practice of keeping the sink clean in your relationship. Don’t let the dirty dishes of your little hurts or frustrations build up into something that is unmanageable. You don’t want to leave landmines throughout your relationship that can cause the whole foundation to blow up.
Instead, make the effort to clean as you go. This allows you to remain connected to each other and to avoid blowups that are out of proportion to the current mishap.
Stop Fighting With Your Partner And Start Fighting For The Relationship
The power struggle is like a tug-of-war between the two of you. When one of you is “right” that means the other one is “wrong.” No one wants to be wrong – you expend a lot of energy fighting off being wrong in every part of your life. Stop fighting with your partner by refusing to make each other right or wrong.
Instead of the ego struggle of who is right or who is wrong, develop an “us against the world” mentality. This means that you fight for the relationship, not for your way, or his way.
Contrary to popular belief, compromise breeds resentment and ultimately kills passion in a relationship. No one wants to give up things they want and/or need in order to meet in the middle. It creates a lose-lose situation.
Instead, look for a win-win in order to resolve conflict. This will require more effort and creativity, and we can assure you it is well worth it in the long run!
Practicing these 7 tools will allow you to stop fighting with your partner so you can rekindle the Romance Stage sharing the deep connection and love that grows over time. This skill set will serve you to view conflict as a doorway to a deeper connection.
Most people are conflict avoidant, so through these practices, you’ll have plenty of chances to heal your childhood wounds by being seen, heard, and understood. This is the magic of emotional intimacy that is only possible when you’ve stood by one another through the years together.
Are you stuck in a fight cycle with your partner and looking for help breaking the pattern? Download our special report, The 5 Stages of Relationship. You’ll the single most powerful choice you can make to break out of a power struggle in a relationship.
About the authors
Orna and Matthew Walters are soulmate coaches and prolific writers about love. Finding love, keeping love, healing from heartbreak, bringing in your beloved and more. They have been published on MSN, Yahoo!, YourTango, Redbook, and have been featured guest experts on BRAVO’s THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER with Patti Stanger, and as guests with Esther Perel speaking about love and intimacy.