Fighting in relationships is inevitable. This is not necessarily a bad thing — working through conflicts only makes your bond stronger. Of course, there are completely unproductive ways to fight, and when we’re fired up it’s easy to fall into those patterns. The best thing you can do to ensure a “good” fight is to know what you’re pissed about, and make sure you express it.
Knowing why you’re mad can be trickier than you might imagine. Think about the things we tend to yell about. They’re often small: leaving dishes in the sink, not taking out the trash or being 30 minutes late. Generally speaking, these small behaviors aren’t the actual problem. Maybe they’re annoying, but there’s probably something deeper going on that made them so infuriating in the first place.
What we’re truly upset about is generally much more profound and less nitpicky than what we express. We feel neglected, walked on, rejected or unloved. But because it’s hard to pinpoint one specific behavior that makes us feel this way, we grab onto something small yet tangible and have blow-out fights about three dirty plates.
We get mad about things that are easy to get mad about. These things don’t illuminate past scars, current insecurities or deep-seated fears. They let us get out all our pain and anger without having to admit how much control our partner has over our happiness. But they also distract us from having conversations about what we really need. These feelings could poison the relationship if left unattended.
These more difficult issues that we’re not confessing to our partners (and maybe even to ourselves) are the ones we need to bring up. Maybe we can’t do it articulately. Maybe we don’t have “facts” to support it. And maybe it makes us sound a little more vulnerable than we’d like to admit. But only by revealing your deepest wounds does your partner have any chance to heal them.