Do you and your partner fight the same fight over and over?
You think you’re fighting about one thing. However, what you’re really doing is repeating a pattern.
You say the same thing you’ve always said. Your partner gives the same responses. Nothing is resolved.
Somehow, the fight comes to an end. It never stays done for long, though, because you haven’t solved the underlying problem. It’s frustrating.
Why do so many couples repeat their fight this way?
More importantly, what can you do to end the pattern in your own relationship?
Why Do Couples Repeat the Same Fights?
You are not the only couple stuck in this trap. In fact, couples commonly argue about the same things and feel stuck or unable to reach a mutually satisfying solution. Generally, we do this because we never learned how to argue constructively.
Family Patterns of Avoidance / Explosion
Many families attempt to avoid arguments. This teaches us to bottle things up in the interest of peace. However, feelings don’t just go away. Eventually, they demand expression. They may simmer and lead to resentment or explode and lead to disrespect. Repeating these same fight patterns can do real harm to your relationship.
You Haven’t Learned to Listen
Often, we aren’t taught good listening skills in our families. As a result, we don’t know how to listen to our partners. Since we can’t hear our partners, we can’t resolve the argument. Therefore, we can often feel unheard and dismissed.
You Make Assumptions
A corollary of not listening is the tendency to make assumptions. Therefore, you act as though can read your partner’s mind, draw conclusions, and respond accordingly. Usually, negatively. By listening to the argument in your own head, you’re not dealing with the argument you’re really having.
You Are Having A Past Fight
Each time that you’ve had this fight, it locks into your memory. When you have the fight again, you’re not just fighting about “this time”. Instead, you’re fighting about every other time that you’ve had this fight.
For example, perhaps you and your partner always fight about doing the dishes. When you get mad that the dishes aren’t done, it’s probably not because of this night’s dishes. Instead, you’re thinking about every time you’ve had this same argument and what it means that your partner doesn’t empathize.
You feel hurt and unheard. You likely multiply that hurt by every previous hurt. Then you attack your partner or overreact. Naturally, your partner responds in kind.
How to Stop Repeating the Same Fight
Repeating the same fight is normal. Many couples do this, often because they haven’t learned how to listen clearly and fight fairly in their families of origin. Fortunately, these are skills you can learn.
Begin by Interrupting the Pattern
Be the first to recognize that this is the same fight. Here’s how to productively end the argument:
- Pull out the stop sign. Ask for a break.
- Set a date and time to return to the discussion. As a result, you don’t just avoid the issue.
- Separate physically if necessary. Reassure your partner that you’ll return ready to deal with the issue.
Come into an Argument Calmly
Be sure to use your “cooling off” period to restore your equilibrium. Don’t just stew over the argument. Do some deep breathing. Meet your own physical needs; sleep and eat so your body is nourished.
Take Turns Talking
It’s important to listen and also to be heard. Take turns explaining your side clearly and concisely. Here are some tips for discussing the issue:
- Figure out which part of the argument you are responsible for. What could you have done differently? Be generous.
- When you are speaking, focus on what you are feeling. Don’t use blaming words or a condescending tone. Be kind.
- Listen as if you really want to understand your partner. Recap what you heard, and ask your partner if you clearly understood what they meant to say. Let your partner know that you understand, even if you don’t agree. Be respectful.
- Underscore your appreciation for them and their willingness to share openly. Prioritizing your relationship above the issue is key. Remember that your partner is not the problem, you simply have a problem to work through. Be cooperative.
Seek Solutions Together
Thinking of yourselves as a team, rather than adversaries at an impasse, is important. Work together to solve a problem. By talking and listening openly, you can identify the core issue and any underlying emotions interfering with a solution. Chances are, your conflict wasn’t ever really about the dishes in the first place!
Finally, it’s important to recognize that Vulnerability is one key component in an intimate relationship. Learn more about how vulnerability helps deepen your connection and contact me soon for a consultation to begin building the relationship you want.