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The Top 10 Mistakes Couples Make When Fighting


Tools and tips for every day relationship problems. Blog posts on how to stop conflict, how to have more intimacy and how to have better communication with your husband, wife or partner.

The Top 10 Mistakes Couples Make When Fighting

Erika Boissiere

How to Stop Fighting in Your Relationship

Every couple fights. Some do it in big boisterous ways, while others do it in small unnoticeable ways. Either way, there are pitfalls that any couple can fall into when fighting.

These top 10 mistakes are the most common conflict tactics that couples use, and often get them into hot water.

In reading below, ask yourself and be honest: Which one do you do? It is with this reflection that will give you insight into changing your conflict pattern with your partner. And hopefully, change your relationship for the better.

Fighting Mistake #1: Being right & blaming: How much does being “right” matter to you?

We get it. No one likes to be wrong, but how badly do you need to be right? Is it hard for you to accept responsibility? If you often find yourself in a fight waiting to hear those words, “you’re right honey” but rarely say them, we have bad news - eventually your partner will want to check out.

Fighting Mistake #2: Unbridled self-expression: Do you talk and talk…and rarely listen?

You are in a fight. You are mad. More than anything, you want to tell your partner everything that is on your mind. And when we say “everything," we mean--everything. If you talk a lot but rarely listen, it is hard for your partner to remain focused and engaged. By taking this approach, you are telling your partner in a small, but big way, “I deserve to be listened to, but you don’t.”

Fighting Mistake #3: Being defensive: The problem is, you’re defensive about being defensive.

If people seem to be walking on tiptoe when they are around you, you are probably acting defensive.  Why is being defensive a problem? Defensiveness ultimately teaches the other partner to either have to skillfully craft their communication for you, or they will choose not bring up anything unless it is in agreement with you. Ultimately, this makes a relationship not healthy. It is often hard for someone who acts defensive to acknowledge their behavior or accept this feedback. Take a deep breath, and try to think to yourself – do I act defensive?

Fighting Mistake #4: Using extreme language: “you always” or “you never.”

Often when we get into fights, we tend to use extreme language. To ensure we make our point understood and heard we resort to big language. However, extreme language, such as "you always" or "you never" is rarely accurate,  over-inflates the problem, and can escalate a fight.

Fighting Mistake #5: Not expressing your feelings. “Are you mad at me?” “No, I’m fine.”

Does your partner often ask, “Are you mad at me?” And is your response, “No, I’m fine," when you're actually fuming inside?  How long does this cycle continue until you finally admit that you are mad?  This strategy might work for a while, but eventually it is going to get really tiresome for your partner. 

Fighting mistake #6: Being sarcastic or passive aggressive.

Sarcasm can be funny, but when you are in a heated fight, it will only infuriate your partner. On the other hand, passive aggressiveness confuses your partner. You may ask nicely for their help, but the well of resentment and anger in your voice is obvious. Both of these communication modes tend to escalate and prolong fights, as they indirectly communicate your needs, feelings and emotions.

Fighting Mistake #7: Telling your partner what to do: you always know best.

You tell your partner how to cook, how to clean, how to change the diaper, how to park, how to chew their food – really, it can be and will be…just about anything.  Unknowingly, you are criticizing your partner. You may believe that you are helping them – but if you are constantly correcting, admonishing or critiquing, you are acting like a parent. It may be hard to admit, but take a step back and ask yourself – how often do I criticize my partner? About what sorts of things? If your critiques are trivial in nature, then this might be your current strategy.

Fighting Mistake #8: Not staying on topic.

You are mad. Your partner is mad. You start fighting about one thing, and then you rehash another fight from a couple of weeks ago. Suddenly, you’ve got a whole armory of things you are mad about, and you start slinging them at your partner.  You're making “fight soup”!  You defend on one topic, and then suddenly you are arguing about something you can hardly remember. “Wait, what did I do again?” Now is the time to learn how to stay on one topic.

Fighting Mistake #9: The never-ending fight: It’s 2AM and you Are still at it.

If you are the type of couple whose fights continue on, and on, and on – it is time to take a new approach. Marathon fights tend to lead to more fights. More issues get discussed, more feelings get hurt, and rarely is peaceful resolution reached when it's all over.

Fighting Mistake #10: Going into problem solving mode: fixing the problem sometimes isn’t the answer.

You want to help. We get it. You say to yourself, “I’ve been there before, I can help!” Or, “I know how to handle this perfectly – you just need to…” And you’re right. You might know. You may have been there before, but your partner isn’t you. Your partner has a different set of experiences and may have a different way of solving the same problem that is right for them.

Still Having Trouble?

Consider couples counseling. Learn about our services or contact us here.