We fight about everything. The dishes, who does more housework, our friends. You name it, we'll fight about it."
Donna and Joan* came to see me after they realized fighting overshadowed everything good in their relationship. They agreed that nothing ever got resolved and the same issues came up again and again. Joan thought their fighting might be a sign they shouldn't be together and stated, "we love each other but if this was a good relationship, we wouldn't fight so much, would we?"
If you and your partner fight about everything, the chances are you have deeper issues to work on than the dishes. When anger and resentment build up, communication can break down. When this happens, resolution becomes impossible.
Conflicts are going to arise within intimate relationships. It's unrealistic to think you and your partner are going to be on the same page about everything. Fighting isn't bad or good. The way people fight can either be destructive or constructive.
We all want to be understood and listened to when we talk. If you and your partner can discuss issues calmly and rationally, chances are better that she will hear you then if you yell and blame. Starting a discussion with "you never do any work around here." is not going to get the response you want. Your partner will naturally become defensive. If you and your partner communicate by blaming, becoming defensive, hurling accusations and put downs, you'll end up angry, hurt, and resentful and your relationship will suffer.
Why do we communicate like this when most of us know that it brings the opposite of what we want?
In my next blog, I will discuss where this kind of communication comes from and what you can do differently.