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When Couples Fight

Photo by Erik Clausen (His Blog, Flickr)
Editor’s Note

This article applies also to those not currently in a relationship.

My husband and I had a fight over the weekend – on our date night, of all nights. We rarely fight, so when emotions escalated to shouting, I knew something had to change. I had to change. There was something to be learned here.

The thing about when couples bicker is that both people feel that they are right. Both people feel that their point of view is rightfully justified. So we try to make the other person understand. When we are arguing, what we are essentially trying to do is to show the other person our side – to show them that we are right (and they are wrong).

After all was said and done, underneath the problem on the surface, what we were really fighting for was to feel appreciated and validated. We, each in our own indirect way, were trying to let the other person acknowledge us, and to value what we contribute. But sometimes, we can be so stubborn.

If you dissect all the fights we’ve had in the past with our significant others, and through observing our friends, I think the desire to feel appreciated and recognized is a common theme.

What’s interesting is that in the heat of “battle”, when we are so consumed with wanting the other person to see our side, we become blind to recognizing the other person’s point of view – which is equally valid and understandable. It’s like trying to put out fire with more fire, you will just end up with a bigger fire.

In every argument, there are two sides to every story. It is highly likely that both parties are partially wrong, and both parties are partially right. And if both people continue to argue for their side, there will be no end to it. There will be no peace, no resolution.

But if one person, puts their own need to feel right on pause for just a few minutes, and sees how painful it must be for the other person, and genuinely apologizes for the hurt they may have unintentionally caused, then a miraculous shift takes place between them.

The other person will realize that they too were wrong, and likely apologize as well. When they do, the energy between them shifts from that of resentment and misunderstanding and hurt to that of love and forgiveness and generosity. When that happens, the love in our hearts expands to a realm beyond us, leaving us feeling a blissful sense of peace.

Admitting that we were wrong can feel as bad as pulling our own teeth. And when we do, it requires an internal fight with our ego to overcome our natural urge to retaliate and defend for our side. But it is possible to make a conscious decision of setting our egos aside – this may require biting our tongues, and nodding our heads in agreement though.


Photo by Nathiya Prathnadi

If we truly become the observer, we will see that, in a way, the other person is right – at least partially right. There is something we can learn here. And it really doesn’t matter if they see our side. Our job is to bring love in to situations and to empower ourselves, and those around us. To learn from life.

I came to the realization that “I don’t care to be right anymore. The argument is over something from the past. Why am I constantly trying to bring this unhappy state from the past into my present? And into my future? Why am I creating a future that causes myself suffering?

Like a light bulb going off in my head, I began to soften up, and began to relax.

When I relaxed, I forgave, and released something from the past, which I’ve held on to so tightly over the past year. This belief -this story- that I’ve held on to, was the source of much pain, which I’ve created for myself. And now, I’ve set it free. I set myself free.

Here are some quotes from Dr. Wayne Dyer from his book Excuses Begone! that seem appropriate to this topic:

You hear people say this all the time: “I have a right to be upset because of the way I’ve been treated. I have a right to be angry, hurt, depressed, sad, and resentful.” Learning to avoid this kind of thinking is one of my secrets for living a life of inner peace, success, and happiness.

At the root of virtually all spiritual practice is the notion of forgiveness. Think about every single person who has ever harmed you, cheated you, defrauded you, or said unkind things about you. Your experience of them is nothing more that a thought that you carry around with you. These thoughts of resentment, anger, and hatred represent slow, debilitating energies that will disempower you. If you could release them, you would know more peace.

A peaceful person attracts peaceful energy. You won’t know God unless you’re at peace, because God is peace. Your resentments literally send God out of your life while you’re busy being offended.

You practice forgiveness for two reasons: to let others know that you no longer wish to be in a state of hostility with them and to free yourself from the self-defeating energy of resentment. Send love in some form to those you feel have wronged you and notice how much better you feel.”

Parting Words

Sometimes, when we hit rock bottom, or fall into a dip in our journey through life’s turbulences, there isn’t anywhere else to go but up. Instead of treating these experiences as the enemy, as something that you “hate”, remember that these situations are there to help us wake up.

These experiences are there to teach us something we have yet to learn. These moments are blessings that we have yet to realize. These moments are the turning points of our life, towards something more profound, and valuable, and beautiful.

In summary, here’s what I’ve learned:

  • I don’t care to be right anymore. I don’t care if another sees my side. It doesn’t matter. It’s all in the past now. Let’s focus on the now and the future.
  • In all challenges, no matter how justified I feel, always come back to myself by asking, “What can I learn from this situation? What lessons am I supposed to learn that I have yet to recognize? What did I learn about myself?
  • Writing my thoughts down when these challenges happen is a great way to not only get to know myself in more depth, but also help to relieve resentment and pain. Writing in my journal is my best medicine.
  • Talking about it to others from the point of complaining and victim identity only prolongs the story, and causes us to remain in the mode of helplessness. But never the less, talking about it to a neutral party helps to relieve some of the bundled-up energy, and may help us find clarity. I recommend finding a counselor who is trained to listen and direct you towards a mindful resolution.
  • Our opinion about someone (or some situation) colors our perception of them, and projects upon them a story, which makes the story become true for us. This projection changes our interaction with that person, making it appear more real to us. For example, if we believe that someone doesn’t like us, we will start to look for evidences of that person not liking us. As we know, what we seek, we shall find. We project upon this person that they dislike us, and we repeat that belief in our head, and it becomes true for us. In reality it’s only an idea in our own head, and not actually true.
  • Telling someone you’ve forgiven them, but still complaining for what they “did to you” is not true forgiveness. You’ve only done so superficially. This hard feeling will continue to linger until you can truly forgive them and stop talking about the story.
  • Forgiveness can be a multi-layered process. Don’t kick yourself if you can’t do it in one sitting. It can take time. Take as much time as you need. Follow the flow of life. Know that when you are suffering, there are more forgiving to be done.
  • Communication is vitally important in any relationship – not just in romantic ones. It’s important to setup time regularly to communicate, to share openly about your feelings, thoughts, unhappiness, worries, joys, dreams, hopes. For couples who live together, it’s important to do this instead of falling into the routine of crashing on the couch and watching TV all night. Even if sharing time means 10 minutes every day before bed. Make it a priority.
  • For couples with kids, it is important to commune as a couple and spend quality time together, focused on each other. Schedule date nights, even if it’ll cost money to find a sitter, or that you have to trade baby sitting with another couple. Your relationship is the nest in which your children lie in. Your relationship is the foundation to which your family is built upon. How much money is that worth? Priceless, right? Make it a priority.
  • Sometimes, we create busyness in our lives to avoid dealing with something that is causing us pain. We bury ourselves in our work, or direct our attention in the solving of someone else’s problems, in order to avoid dealing with a problem in our own life. No worries if you recognize this. We do this unconsciously, and it happens to all of us. Be brave. Make a conscious effort to address the root problem, this will make us feel so much lighter and free. We can actually end up happy (imagine that!).

I love you guys. Thank you for listening. And in case you’re curious, Jeremy and I are doing more than great now. We’re thankful for the learning and growing experience, and are closer than ever! :)

Please take a moment to let the meaning behind these words sink in. Apply what rings true to you to the best of your ability in your own lives. Learn from my mistakes and those around you. Spread joy. Life is so precious, and beautiful – and you deserve to see and experience its beauty in its full bloom.

Have a beautiful week, my friends.


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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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59 thoughts on When Couples Fight

  1. Whenever we refuse to forgive, or agree to disagree, we are saying “I would rather be right than happy.”

    Not a very pleasant way to go through life.

    Whenever we feel “entitled” to hold on to our anger, hurt, and pain . . . the same is true.

    We are holding on to something that is blocking peace and happiness from our life.

    What a waste.

    Great post.

  2. @nrhatch

    >Whenever we refuse to forgive, or agree to disagree, we are saying “I would rather be right than happy.”
    >Whenever we feel “entitled” to hold on to our anger, hurt, and pain . . .
    We are holding on to something that is blocking peace and happiness from our life.

    I’m gonna have to quote you on these. Your words are perfect.

  3. Hi Tina,

    Thank you for sharing the experiences you learned from your fight with your husband with us. I believe you are right. When you break it all down, couples fight because they need to feel appreciated and recognized. I also love all the comprehensive tips you have given on how to manage a fight when it happens. Setting aside our resentment, apologizing, forgiving and trying to find a resolution that pleases both parties is the way to go in settling differences.

    Having said that, a fight doesn’t happen for no reason. There must be lingering resentment somewhere which has not been properly communicated which inevitably led up to the fight. What is important is that issues are resolved once and for all each time so that you do not keep fighting about the same thing.

    Also, it is very important not to treat any displeasure, no matter how small as harmless or inconsequential. Because if it is not openly and candidly discussed at the onset, this small displeasure could grow into a massive problem one day.

    The I-Ching states:

    “If an inferior element has wormed its way in, it must be energetically checked at once. By consistently checking it, bad effects can be avoided. If it is allowed to take its course, misfortune is bound to result; the insignificance of that which creeps in should not be a temptation to underrate it.”

    Here the inferior elements refers to the displeasure I mentioned above. If we can check any problems early, there will be less problems to deal with in the future.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely post! :)

    Irving aka the Vizier

  4. @The Vizier

    Hi Irving,

    Wow, that you for the reminder. I need to read the I-Ching. It’s been on my list for awhile.

    It’s so easy to forget this pointer, since it is our survival instincts that pulls us to avoid uncomfortable situations and avoiding handling when the issue is small.

    Thank you for that. It applies to all relationships, not just romantic ones.

    Tina

  5. Uzma Mansha

    hey tina !! i love dis article of urs i enjoyed every minute of it. keep up d good work . it really helped me out by calmin me down i read it like 4 times ne way thanx so much for writing an article which came at d rite time wen i needed it most. tc wid lots of love

  6. Rahi S.

    A vey honest, warm and educative article, Tina. Thank you for the sharing. ?

  7. Manel W

    Great article. well done! Indeed I appreciate and say ok to every word there. you touched all the componenets of fighting in relationships.

  8. Manel W

    Hey Tina! as Rahi said it is a very honest, warm and educative article. The compassion feelings come out of that writing. I wanted to share with all my friends So. I sent tnat e mail to alll my e mail friend s over 300. I want to educate all my friends regarding that issue, They can read other good articles too. I do not know some times They just neglect saying no time. any way good luck to you.

  9. Wow! Some REALLY great stuff here folks! Thank you all for this.

    @ Gemma – That is an AMAZING idea… and to piggy back off Tina’s thoughts… Applying a physiological/mind type mention to the issue is wonderful. It’s much easier for us to use something tangible when we’re caught there… (a word) rather then using something of the spirit, when we can’t see it.

    Thanks a lot for that!

    Love and light,

    Matt

  10. The thoughts I shared above are not original to me.
    I absorb the wisdom of others readily. :)

    And then share the wealth with others:
    http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/wasted-days-and-wasted-nights/

    To make their path through life a bit less rocky.

    BTW: I believe the Dalai Lama pointed out that when we disagree with others, we have a choice to make ~ we can either be right or happy.

  11. @nrhatch

    Thanks for the correction. You must have been me quoting you on facebook. :) I just found what you wrote to be so profound.

    Okay, I’ll quote that to Dalai Lama then. :)

  12. I truly enjoyed reading this. Relationships are all about learning, patience, understanding and compromise. For this reason, I think the disagreements are just as important to the health of a relationship as the moments when you get along.

    The “bad” times give us a chance to learn more about ourselves and our partners. We learn to be more patient, to reflect on our decisions, and to operate as a team.

  13. This was a really neat article and I enjoyed every word. I know it comes from a place of peace, forgiveness, and deep acceptance.

    My friend Crystal Mckay wrote this to me once on facebook. I always read it when I feel upset with someone or something lol. I hope you will find value in it sweetie.

    “Ironically the people that seem to hurt us the most are those who, at the SOUL level, LOVE and support us the most…. witness this.
    Almost always, and often at great expense to themselves in terms of discomfort.. these individuals try to teach us something about ourselves and encourage soul to move toward healing. ?

    ? SOUL Level… Yes. With the SOUL level we are encouraging/supporting “events” “circumstances” to happen as an impetus to “self” realizing how we “came to” our energy pattern presently resulted in circumstance…
    Know this may not be an orange to orange personality exchange… :) more than likely the personalities of these individuals may clash and crash, love, tumble and fall.

    _Look with a shift in perspective… (even with the most little incongruences in daily living) the SOULS of each “player” *set up* the scenario in the “hope” that the BEing will ‘come to’ and see the issue to heal -with the core, rawly, vulnerably. with R00Ts… With OpenNESS. Undress the skin, the mask of making things personal. Allow the ‘at home’ to be however YOU ARE. Feel Resonance As It Is. allow you to be just as you are, in the timing that is. Perfect. Whole. Abundant. Full.. Infinite._
    Feel how this can translate into a wonderful tool in feeling Roots ALL-ways…. *anyway.*”


    be a fool… Love anyway.
    I appreciate you

    Thank You Tina :)

  14. @Nea – Relationship Saga

    Thank you.

    I agree that the disagreements are just as important to the health of a relationship. But we as a society have bought into the believe that relationships are supposed to be ideal, never arguments. And so, when we get into arguments, it’s easy to look outside and wonder if there’s someone else there better for us. This seems to be common from what I’ve seen of couples.

    In this regard, the grass is always greener on the other side. No matter who we are in a relationship with, there will always be something that we won’t agree upon. Every relationship carries its “problems” (if you can call it that), and it’s up to us to adjust and learn from them. And these moments, as you said, are just as valid and valuable as when the pair is getting along.

  15. @Therese Miu

    Hi Therese,

    Thank you for sharing that! It’s true that those we hurt the most are the people closest to us. And vice versa. :)

    I appreciate you! Thanks for sharing this on facebook and twitter. And the feedback via email.

    T.

  16. Srikanth D

    Hi Tina.. thanks for that wonderful article.. i completely agree with you about your point related to spending some “quality time” together.. which i feel is very much necessary..

  17. Long and detailed post, thanks for sharing. I agree with most of the points in this article. I’ve been married for 8 years and if everyone read this post before committing then they’d be in a much better position long term (50% of marriages end in divorce).

    Cheers,
    Bryce Long
    Blogging @ http://www.TheRichMindset.com

  18. Excellent article! Keep up the good work Tina!

  19. Leah

    Tina,

    I cannot thank you enough for this post. My family has been going through a rough time this year (my Mom is struggling through all of her treatments for breast cancer).

    Unfortunately, my Mom refuses to seek out any kind of help, counseling, or comfort. My parents had (another) terrible fight and right now I’m trying *not* to get wrapped up in the drama.

    Your post was a gentle reminder of how important it is to not hold grudges. Also, an interesting approach to any sort of couple’s fight. I’m lucky right now that my husband is so incredibly supportive right now and I need to forgive and move on…because it’s not helping anyone in the family if I forget how to forgive.

  20. Hi Leah,

    You are very welcome. Thank you for commenting and sharing a slice of your life with us.

    It’s hard not to hold grudges sometimes. But once we realize that we are, be conscious about letting them go and setting ourselves free.

    Tina

  21. Leah

    You’re welcome. Your posts this holiday season have been most helpful. :)

  22. Put a side your ego when you have confrontation with your partners, I think that is the key to prevent couples fight.

  23. @ Rachel – There’s more at the door??

  24. There’s more what at the door??

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