Have you ever been stuck in a never ending fight with your spouse? Don’t get me wrong, every couple fights*, but having the same fight over and over is probably the most frustrating thing that can happen in a relationship. And believe me—my husband and I have been there, done that—it is miserable.
We discovered the hard way that we were fighting wrong, and that’s why we kept ending up in these never-ending cycles. The secret to breaking out of the same old fight is to fight differently than you ever have before.
It will feel awkward at first, but if you stick with it, not only will your fight be resolved, but your marriage will be stronger than ever.
Fighting is really important.
In most relationships, there is one person who absolutely hates fighting. This person will usually withdraw into himself when he has a problem and brood about it quietly rather than bringing it out in the open. Sometimes both partners do this, and the fight is avoided altogether.
A non-confrontational personality is a very admirable strength to have. But in a marriage, you have to set that part of yourself aside sometimes, because avoiding the conflict actually creates more conflict. Eventually, all of the past hurts you have held onto will come out in one big explosion—issues that could have been resolved by fighting them out, forgiving, and letting go.
Fighting is a positive thing when done correctly. It clears the air, puts you both on the same page, and opens your heart to forgiveness and peace.
If you find it difficult to bring up things that are bothering you, establish a simple signal to show your partner that something isn’t right. For example, you may decide to flip a pillow backward on your bed when there is something you need to talk about. That way, your partner will know that there is something you wish to say, and they can get the conversation started.
First of all, you both need to find the real problem in order to fight about it.
This is the hardest and most critical part of arguing with your spouse, and it will take patience and a calm demeanor to accomplish. It will also take a lot of time, and involves both talking and active listening.
Most fights begin because you and your partner are just not on the same page. You make assumptions about how the other person feels and why they did something that bothered you. A lot of times, your assumption is dead wrong. You have to talk about this and get it all out in the open to find the actual problem.
The best exercise that will get you both talking in a way that does not anger the other person is to use the following sentence structure when you are telling your side of the story: “I feel _____ when you ______.” It feels awkward at first, but I promise it works!
When it still seems like you are not on the same page, it may be that you just aren’t listening. To fix this problem, immediately after your partner tells you what is wrong, repeat it back to them in your own words. If you got it wrong or inserted your own assumptions, your partner will correct you. This active listening practice feels redundant, but it will get you both on the same page and identifying the real problem very quickly.
Put the problem in front of you instead of between you to resolve the fight.
Once you identify the problem, the best way to fight about it is to put it in front of you instead of between you. Imagine you are both sitting on a couch together. Visualize the problem being on the coffee table, spread out before both of you. Don’t internalize it, don’t put it on your partner, and do not put it between you. Put the problem out in front—and fight side by side.
After you have communicated effectively to identify the real problem, you will find that the real problem is often sin. Now is the time to embrace the fact that as a married couple, you are spiritual partners. Put that sin out in front of both of you, and fight it. Repent, forgive, and turn to the Word together.
This is how the fight will be resolved, and how the sin can be identified and uprooted. Together.
Look to God and pray for one another. We like to use “popcorn” prayer when we are resolving a fight. I pray for him, and he prays for me. We go back and forth until we feel like we have said everything we want to say to God. God has blessed us so much, and our marriage is stronger than ever when we pray for each other—even when we are mad.
If something is irreconcilable or too big to fix, ask for help.
Sometimes the real problem is something big, like addiction or infidelity. It is okay to seek help for these types of issues! It is hard not to be ashamed—to put your pride aside and ask for professional help—but in a lot of cases, it is necessary to save the marriage. Get help if you need it. God will walk beside you the whole way if you ask Him to—you aren’t alone.
Fighting with your spouse is never easy, but you can get out of the “same old fight” loop and grow closer to your spouse and to God when you fight differently than you ever have before. Allow yourselves to find peace by letting go of any non-confrontational attitudes, identifying the real problem, and putting it out in front of you, and then fight together instead of against one another. Look to God to walk with you and bring you closer every step of the way—you will be glad you did!
**By fighting, I mean arguing to resolve an issue in your relationship. It is NEVER okay to physically or emotionally abuse your partner.**
If you are in an abusive relationship, there are local and national resources available to help you.
You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-3224 or 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). This service is provided free of charge, your identity remains anonymous, and they can point you to local resources, provide support, and answer any questions you may have.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.