What do most (or all) couples fight about, and BONUS: how do you fight in a better way?

What do most (or all) couples fight about, and BONUS: how do you fight in a better way?

All Couples fight about all the same issues you do, mostly issues you probably can think of pretty easily. And the way to fight better is to do it in a way that hurts your partner the least, actually makes meaningful compromise in resolving the issue at hand, and makes it less likely that the fight will do lasting damage to your relationship. The end.

Seriously, that’s it.

What, you’re STILL here?

Ok fine, I’ll give you some details. *rolls eyes*

Rule #1: never fight when you’re hungry. Seriously. I’m hungry now, and that’s making me cranky. Because of this, for me, fighting (or writing blog posts) is a TERRIBLE idea right now. Aside from hunger, try to fight only when you’re not being affected by other stuff that affects your mood, brings you down, and makes it more likely that “bad” fighting will happen. Be at the top of your game and feel your best when you fight for a better outcome!!! (results not guaranteed. Void where prohibited.)

*eats bowl of raisin bran*

Hi again everyyyonee! 😊 😊 beautiful day we’re having, innit? So, where were we? Oh yes. Topics pretty much everyone fights about

Some of these, this one included, are fairly self-explanatory. We all have free time and varying degrees of control of how we use this time as well as any other energy or resources available after doing what we need to do for the day. A couple may disagree on what they should do during this free time. This can cause ongoing disagreements and may lead to a more General disconnection as well. There can also be disagreement about how much to work – one spouse may want to make more money and work more, the other may want more hours of family time – this can be a major issue.

The good news about this particular issue, (which many people think is by FAR the biggest area of disagreement and disconnection but in reality this is not even close to being true,) is that, in other words, people tend to think it’s a MUCH bigger problem than it actually is.

the actual research shows that the differences between the perceptions and realities in regard to perceptions about desire for frequency are often quite large. For example – and this has happened to me, in my practice, in various iterations fairly frequently – in a couple’s session I asked a couple “what’s the difference between your respective levels of sexual desire?”

His answer: “it’s ridiculous, she wants it CONSTANTLY! I can NEVER make her happy!!”

Her answer: “that’s not true that I want it constantly. but you absolutely NEVER want it!!”

Then, when I am speaking with each of them alone, I asked her – how many times would you say you want to have sex each week? Her answer – “Maybe three to four times.”

When I asked him the same question? His answer “I don’t know, one or two – usually two times a week.”

Again, versions of this actually happen to me in session in a not-uncommon way.

Essentially, they perceived each other as I’m being extremely different, whereas in reality they actually were not that different at all, and even sometimes overlap a bit.

Differences in this area are not all about frequency though – when it comes to specific acts, behaviors, habits, etc there can be immense variety in what people find comfortable/desirable vs. not. So this remains an area of fighting that I see frequently in my practice.

Again, fairly self-explanatory. How much money is there is, is a simple number, a straightforward fact. (If it is not a simple fact, for example if one spouse thinks the other is being deceptive in some way, then that is a much more serious issue.) But even when there is the requisite honesty and transparency, there can still be tremendous differences in priority of what to do with the money that exists. Where to dedicate it, what to focus on, etc. In essence, this is not really a fight about money – it is actually a fight about the importance of various items, and perhaps of overall worldview.

How to raise kids in various ways, what to teach them as core values, where to encourage them to allocate their energy and time after school etc., are all common themes of disagreements at some point during a marriage. Ideally, a couple will have discussed many of these issues, or at least the major ones, prior to deciding to have children, and be on the same page about most of them, but sometimes people just don’t do that. And for those people, it can be a very nasty surprise when they find out that their life partner has equal rights in bringing of their child, even if that person has very different views than they do about how to raise those children. If these differences continue to manifest, it will lead to ongoing conflict and fights.

This is one likely to come up around the Holidays as there are extra meals, more extra stuff like decorating, selecting, buying, & giving presents, and general household stuff.

The best strategy here is to deal with it head-on and to have DIRECT conversations about household responsibilities if there’s any fighting around this topic. Even if there’s not active fighting, it can’t hurt to talk things through to clarify things and make sure everyone is on the same page. If partners try to talk about this but it doesn’t work out successfully for some reason, they should try it again and have another talk.

One aspect that’s important in these talks is to make sure to get into the details (i.e. specific days, times, details – if one person washes the dishes does the other person automatically put them away? etc) – the key here is being on the same page, and fairness. If partners can’t get on the same page about what fairness means here, it could be indicative of a larger problem.

This is a traditional “fight”, but remains as common today as it always has been. Do we invite Drunk Uncle Bob to the Thanksgiving Dinner? Last time he ended up puking in Aunt Mathilda’s Cobb Salad While you were busy trying to get Grampa Jim to stop telling dirty jokes to the kids, remember? Yes I remember, but Of COURSE we need to invite him, he’s family, & we HAVE TO! Um, are you kidding me? THAT MAN IS NEVER SETTING FOOT IN MY HOUSE AGAIN!!!

You get the idea.

Believe it or not this kind of deserves its own category. In my practice I’ve seen quite a lot of fighting between couples over how much time, what kind, content, etc of Social Media usage their partner engages in, who they talk to online (of course talking to certain people, such as an ex, can be a more major trigger,) and unless the couple is on the same page about all this, it can prove a major fight-producer.

This isn’t a fight per se, but it is a major reason why people do separate/divorce. We all change over time, and the person you met 30 years ago, or even 2 years ago, is not the same person they are today. The things that brought you together may no longer be strong enough to keep you together. That’s simply a (somewhat sad) fact of life, and whether a couple ultimately decides that they add enough to each others’ lives to make staying together worthwhile, is a very individual and personal decision with no “rules” on what’s “right” or “wrong.”

So, all couples fight. According to one of the popular “experts” in Couples counseling, up to 69% of issues NEVER get resolved – so that means that even successful couples don’t always FIX their problems, rather they learn to LIVE WITH THEM in a way that allows for ongoing person happiness by both partners.

The real skill is leaning to fight successfully. Yes, you heard that right. ALL couples fight. The question is how to fight in a way that is healthiest. Doing so entails several aspects:

  • Identify the specific issues that need to be discussed
  • Try to see your partner’s perspective in terms of the items in question
  • Don’t “globalize” – meaning avoid statements starting with “you always…” “you keep on doing…” – focus on the specific topic at hand.
  • Actually I’m hungry and getting cranky again. So I’ll write more about healthier fighting a different time.