It’s a common misconception that fights are indicators of an unhealthy relationship and will destroy your marriage. The reality is quite the opposite—healthy fighting is a normal and important form of communication.
However, not all fighting is healthy fighting. When fights turn mean, disdainful, or disrespectful, they can have a damaging effect on your relationship. Here are some warning signs that your fighting might be harmful to your marriage.
Hurtful labels. Negative labels are not only unconstructive, they can be hugely damaging to self-esteem. This is particularly true of labels addressing personality traits or appearance, such as “couch potato” or “pig.”
Regret. If you frequently find you regret the things you said after a fight, this is a sign that you might be arguing in a way that you inwardly realize is unhelpful and unnecessarily unkind.
Reluctant apologies. To end arguments prematurely, couples often say they’re sorry for saying something they privately still believe is true. When this happens, they end up harboring feelings of resentment that can result in passive aggressive behaviors.
Generalizations. Using words like “never” and “always—such as “you never listen” or “you always do this”— can feel accusatory and unfair.
Forgetting why the argument started. If you can’t remember why the argument began in the first place, it’s a good sign that you are actually upset about another issue.
Dwelling on the past. When you or your partner constantly bring up old arguments or wrongs, it is a sign that neither of you is effectively dealing with conflicts. If you are always dwelling on the past, you will be unable to move forward in your relationship.
At their best, arguments can allow couples to work together to find a solution to their issues in a respectful way. At worst, fighting can cause lasting injury to a relationship and result in emotional wounding that can never be undone. If you are worried that your fights are negatively impacting your relationship, contact a Portland marriage counselor. A counselor can guide you through effective tactics for resolving conflicts in a healthy, beneficial manner.