The 6 Most Toxic Things You And Your Partner Fight About
These are the fights you need to stop having, right now, if you want your relationship to go the distance.
When I was married, I was the worst.
I picked fights, and I fought dirty. I was passive aggressive, dishonest, and constantly threatened to leave. At one point, my husband had had enough, and he laid down a ground rule that I had to stop talking about divorce every time I was mad.
I saw his point, and I did stop playing the divorce card. For a while, things were better. But in the end, we split anyway – and we’re both happier and better off. I miss being married, but I don’t miss feeling like a monster, walking around angry all the time.
Here’s the thing: fighting is an essential part of any healthy relationship. Whether there’s such a thing as too much fighting is up for debate; some couples fight all the time and are perfectly happy. The important thing is how you fight. Certain types of fights – like the ones I had with my ex – are like poison to a relationship.
1. Sex – or the lack of it
Contrary to popular belief, interest in sex isn’t supposed to taper off once a couple has been together for a while. In fact, sex should actually get better over the years. The frequency may lessen at certain points – who can keep up that three-times-a-day business for longer than a few months? – but as you grow to know each other better and love each other more deeply, sex should become richer and more intimate.
You shed your inhibitions and tell each other exactly what you like and don’t like, and become experts in pleasing each other. If sex is something that drives you apart, rather than bringing you together, you’ve got a problem.
2. Who’s right and who’s wrong
When I was shopping around for a couples counselor, I was nervous about finding someone who wasn’t going to act as judge and jury for my partner and me. When friends joked about who had “won” at their latest couples counseling session, it scared me. The thought of a therapist listening to our complaints and then telling us who was right and who was wrong made me even more anxious than I already am.
But, as one therapist (who shall remain anonymous, because I ended up going to her) explained to me, counseling isn’t supposed to work like that. A good therapist, she said, should be a cheerleader for the relationship – not for one partner over the other. If you’re fighting about who’s at fault for a given issue, you’re both going to lose. The two of you need to be a team, united against your problems. Assigning blame won’t get you anywhere good.
3. The past
Fighting about things that have already happened is tempting, but damaging. If you’re bringing up slights and offenses from months or years back, never putting them to rest, you’re dragging baggage into your present that needs to stay in the past.
What’s the point? You can learn from conflicts you’ve had in the past without opening up those old wounds and fighting about it all over again. If the issue was resolved and apologies were made, then let it be. Bring the lessons you learned with you into the present, and leave the arguments behind.
4. Whether to stay together (or not)
Once you’re fighting about whether or not the relationship should continue, you might as well start drawing up the divorce papers (or packing up the drawer of stuff you keep at his apartment). If you’re not both committed to the relationship, why bother? A long-term, committed relationship takes work and dedication. If you’ve got one foot in and one foot out, it’s not going to work.
If you think the whole thing was a mistake from the start, save your energy for getting through the breakup. Seriously. If you really want to stay together, put your whole heart into it and stop acting like splitting up is an option.
5. The same thing, over and over and over…
In my last relationship, many of our fights were seemingly over different dumb things that neither of us could recall very clearly later. But underneath those surface issues, every fight was about the same thing. It just came out in lots of different ways.
Are you and your partner really fighting about one issue all the time, deep down? Maybe it’s when you’ll get married, or whether or not you want to have kids. Maybe it’s money, or where you’re going to live, or how much time you spend with your families. Whatever it is, figure it out and work it out, before your toxic fights ruin your relationship.
No one likes fighting. It’s not fun. But every relationship has conflict: it’s part of life and totally normal. If you and your partner never fight at all, it’s a pretty good indication that one or both of you just don’t care anymore.
If you’re not willing to fight for it, it’s clearly not worth that much to you. Move on and find someone you’re willing to lay it on the line for.
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Comment: What issues spark the worst fights between you and your partner?