How Much Fighting Is Too Much?

How Much Fighting Is Too Much?

Everyone who’s ever been in a relationship has had a fight. In fact, every relationship, at some point, is going to have some fighting involved, right? Well, no. You’ve probably heard (or even said!) something along the lines of, “we’re already fighting like a married couple”. This sort of thinking makes me wince in pain. My wife and I have never had a fight in 9 years of friendship, 7 years of relationship, and over 3 years of marriage. And we both know we never will. Why is this? What’s our secret? If you’d like to know, keep reading.

Don’t get me wrong; we both had our share of fights… In our previous relationships.

What a Fight Isn’t

Arguments are typically something one would consider to be a negative experience, but some people actually enjoy arguing! Even couples. Some people simply enjoy having intelligent conversations with other parties that don’t feel the same way that they do, in order to express their views, ideas and solutions while learning more about the other’s point of view. There is nothing inherently wrong with this practice as long as everyone involved is mature enough to focus on the conversation and enjoy it rather than getting emotional about someone else not sharing their point of view.

Disagreements are one of the root causes of fights… But are they guaranteed to lead to fights? Not so much. Even identical twins have disagreements, because they don’t experience the world in the exact same way, thus develop a (even if slightly) different set of beliefs. But how do fights arise from disagreements then? It’s very simple: one or both parties cannot stand to be wrong on a particular subject. Essentially, it comes down to a lack of respect for the other’s opinion and/or close-mindedness about anything but their own views and experiences.

Why People Think Fighting Is Normal

How hard is it to find someone in this world you never fight with? Your answer may vary, because depending on how you were raised and your personality, it might be very common for you to start a fight or get dragged into one.

If you ever lived with an alcoholic, chances are that you would be very familiar with fights. We’ll get more into this further, but being emotionally in a bad place paired with alcohol and social interactions of any kind are never a good thing and can often lead to things that should not have been done or said… it would become natural to stay on edge all the time with anyone, thinking a fight could start.

But what if you were raised by a sweet mother who never judged you and always attempted to diffuse any kind of anger or resentment you had for other people? You would likely grow with a very different mindset, where peace with someone you love is possible.

Of course, there are other factors such as personality and empathy that will greatly influence how you interact with other people. Some people will constantly pick fights with others but will more than likely blame the others for it: “If only they agreed with me in the first place!” or even, “If only they did what I asked them to!”. It is an extremely toxic attitude to have, but if they can be made to realize the err of their ways, then not all hope is lost.

The present world in our mind is, after all, shaped by our previous experiences. It defines the normality of our experiences, and we might project beliefs such as, “fighting in a (romantic) relationship is normal and healthy” onto others, even if they are entirely wrong and destructive.

Why Do Couples Fight, Then?

There really aren’t many reasons why fights start. Yes, there will be a bazillion things that can be said or done to trigger the impulse to fight, but in the end, it all starts in your mind.

They might not be in the right state of mind.
Whether someone is depressed, angry, frustrated, stressed or even sleep deprived, you should be careful interacting with them. However, they might lash out at you even though you played no part in how they feel at all, or very little. If they do lash out at you, I urge you to calm down and understand that they are not right in their head right now, and that they might not have meant what they said.

A less known mental state that could start a fight is sleepwalking. It is usually caused by high levels of stress during the day, and the person, during their sleep, might seem fully awake, but they might be an entirely different person, and again, likely say or do things they’ll regret. It’s not their fault and they can’t control it. It can be hard to live with someone who occasionally or even regularly sleepwalks, but one of the worst things you can do is make them feel guilty about their actions while they were asleep

Alcohol and other substances can cause an altered state of mind, or even worsen it. Picture this:
A couple had a fight. He is angry and decides to head for the local bar and gets drunk… then she calls him (yes, he did bring his phone with him and did not turn it off). I think you can guess very easily what could happen next: The man is angry; he shouts at her on the phone, and another fight breaks out — one far worse than the last. You should always be fully aware of how each substance affects you before consuming them and risking any sort of social interaction. Failing to do so doesn’t make you any less responsible for your actions.

What could happen is that they feel too bad about what they’ve said and may not bring it up later. They could also feel they may not need to apologize because you understand that they were not in their right mind… or in the case of substance abuse (usually), they might not even remember at all. If they don’t do bring it up once they’re in a better place, you should challenge them on what they told you, in a neutral way, such as “Why did you say ___?”. After their answer you may state how it made you feel. Engage in the conversation if necessary to see if you were really the root cause of their reaction or if it really was their own fault for letting their emotions get the better of them. At this point, if they genuinely apologized, you should apologize as well if you played any part of it, simply out of respect. Then you may both move on; try to do something together that will both cheer you up!

You should also discuss what could be done in order to avoid such conflict in the future. If the other party gets on the defensive and shows no flexibility or desire to improve in order to avoid your getting hurt, I’m afraid you might have a bigger problem at hand…

You Only Need One Person to Start a Fight

Let’s face it, if you are being aggressively attacked, whether physically or psychologically, you don’t have too many options… the fight/flight/freeze response will likely kick in if you are an emotional person who hasn’t developed a great deal of emotional control. Your body will likely place you on the defensive whether you want it or not.

  • Fight: It’s not going to be pretty
  • Flight: Whether done physically or emotionally, it will only serve to make the argument pop up again in the future
  • Freeze: From the other’s point of view, it is the same as admitting full responsibility for the situation, and manipulators thrive on this

If someone is already in a fighting mindset, you can do little to defuse the situation other than to try to make the other person reflect on their own thoughts and actions while you yourself remain calm at all time. It is not something anyone can achieve overnight as it requires self-control that usually takes years to develop.

It Takes Two to Prevent It

Disagreements can always arise, and they are not a threat to a relationship unless one of the persons involved decides it is. As long as both do not desire to fight, and actively avoid them, there is not much to be feared, thankfully. After all, why risk it? Why risk everything you’ve developed together so far in life? Is it really worth it just to win an argument? Wow, you won an argument! Does it make you feel better about yourself? Before starting to yell, or start throwing personal attacks at the other, and especially start breaking things, you should really ask yourself those questions. If your emotions are getting the better of you, take a step back, think about what you said or did, and apologize if necessary, and do feel free to ask for a break so you can calm down.

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It Doesn’t Feel Good

Fights start from negative emotions, and unless there is a desired outcome from one of parties involved, such as a break up, nothing good arises from it. In fact, the negative emotions only become worse, making it even more likely for future fights to happen.

After a fight, you feel awful, lost and confused… possibly depressed and angry as well. You might not see the other person the same way ever again. You probably won’t want to talk to them for a while — you need to disconnect. You can’t properly give them comfort nor accept it from them. You are still both tense, and you will only be able to get support from other people to help you sort your feelings. Did either of you actually “win” the fight?

Agree to Disagree

It really is that simple! You don’t have to always be right. In fact, you don’t even need to be wrong to end a disagreement! All you need is to agree to disagree. It is not the same as admitting defeat. It is simply showing respect for the other’s views and experiences. It can be hard if you’re used to fighting all the time and have always been on the defensive when a disagreement arises, but always tap into that empathy you have deep down and try understand how and why they feel the way they do.

There are situations where that is not possible, and this simply shows a strong incompatibility, more than likely on the level of your core values. If that is the case, we urge you to consult if you feel lost about how to handle your relationship.

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If you are experiencing a disagreement over a decision, it might be wise to look into compromises.

It can be as simple as choosing an in-between, such as deciding on something that will please both parties, but not to the same extent as each individual’s original solution. For example: watching a comedy (that both enjoy) instead of a thriller or romantic movie (that each desired).

You could also let the other choose, and the next time you’ll be the one who gets to choose!

In the end, the best way to tackle such problems is to minimize the total negative emotions and maximize the total positive emotions of both parties, while, of course, favoring both parties’ happiness over only one person’s happiness. Thinking selfishly is what will cause fights in the first place. Flexibility, empathy and selflessness is what will save you from them and allow the relationship to thrive.

So, How Much Fighting Is Too Much?

Any amount.

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