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Fights in Marriage: Why They Continue and How to Stop Them Now

Not all couples fight and you don’t have to either.  Learn the reasons for marriage fights and how to put an end to them

If you put an egg in the microwave, and try to cook it, what will happen?

It will explode, of course. The interior of the egg expands rapidly while the shell expands only a little. The result is a very messy microwave oven.  A person who makes this mistake once is unlikely to repeat it again.  With all the messiness and hurt that happens when couples fight, why is it that so many husbands and wives continue to have marriage fights?

Let’s look at some of the most common reasons why married couples fight:

1.    TO CHANGE THEIR PARTNER’S BEHAVIOR: You CAN cook an egg in the microwave, although you will have to scrape it out to eat it.  You may also be able to get your partner to comply with some of your demands–if you have more energy for fighting than your partner does.  Some people will go 12 rounds while others will go 8.  The one who goes 12 rounds seemingly wins.  The partner who loses, though, emotionally withdraws more and more.  No one wants to keep getting beat up—emotionally or otherwise.

2.       IT LETS OUT TENSION:  Shouting, screaming, throwing things, punching walls, etc., let’s out tension.  It used to be recommended that angry children be given punching bags to let out their anger in a controlled way.  It is no longer recommended.  The reason?  Kids and adults who let out their anger and tension in this way feel angry more often and end up with a worse temper than they started with.  It also does nothing to decrease the source of the stress.  Children and adults are better off learning to manage the cause of stress rather than to vent their stress.

3.       IT’S A WAY OF DEFENDING ONESELF:  If you accuse me of something and I accuse back, it takes the attention off of me and throws it back to you.  Even if what you are saying is right, I might not be able to deal with it.  This is particularly true for people who have never learned another way to deal with confrontation except by getting angry (or getting even).  A sure sign this is happening is the regurgitation of the same old list of complaints every time a fight happens.  The past never changes as a result of fighting.

4.       THEY ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH INTIMACY:   Some people are afraid to be close.  Being close means being vulnerable.  It means risking being hurt-again.  In order not to face that danger they fight to create a more comfortable distance from their partner.  All this happens below their level of awareness.  They don’t realize that they keep pushing people away because of their fear of being close.  We don’t fear what we know how to handle. 

5.       THEY LEARNED THAT WAY FROM OTHERS:  Having  grown up with fighting in their home, they never learned another way.  For them, fighting means everything is ok.  The family is being the way families are supposed to be.  If their partner is from a similar kind of home, their shared beliefs will keep them fighting for years.  If their partner is from a peaceful home, their opposing beliefs will quickly and severely divide them.  Usually, the peaceful partner will need to learn to help the fighting partner to feel good about the relationship and not fight. 

6.       SOME PEOPLE FIGHT JUST SO THEY CAN MAKE UP:  Would you get mosquito bites just so you can have something to scratch?  Well, some people fight just to make up.  They become sort of make up junkies who need to get a “fix” once in a while.  Some people say this is virtually the only time they feel any closeness from their partner.  This makes fighting understandable, but it still doesn’t make it a good way to get close.  Often, the fights need to get increasingly intense in order to get the same effect, which in turn also damages the relationship.

7.       THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO:  The number one reason why people do anything is that they do what they know how to do.  Their partial success keeps them doing the same things the same way. For how long?  For all their life unless what they are doing no longer works at all.  This is why in relationship coaching, people learn how to communicate and react in ways that prevent their partner’s success with damaging behavior. What no longer works for your partner, your partner will no longer do.

Marriage fights happen for a reason, and follow a predictable pattern.

Understanding that reason, and changing that pattern, are your keys to stopping the fighting and getting closer.

Here are four ways to eliminate marriage fights completely:

1. LEARN A PROCESS FOR MANAGING CONFLICT:  Whether the conflict is within you (such as  difficulties with intimacy, or jealousy) or between you and your partner (money management, parenting, an emotional affair, etc.), if you learn a process for handling differences, fighting will be unnecessary. One of the major benefits of marriage coaching is having the ability to change conflict into opportunities for closeness, rather than events that push you further apart.

2.  LEARN HOW TO LOVINGLY AND EFFECTIVELY DEAL WITH A HUSBAND OR WIFE WHO STARTS FIGHTS:  As we see above, the reason your spouse starts fights is not because he or she wants to fight, but because he or she wants to get some benefit associated with fighting.  When you learn to take that benefit away from fighting, while providing it in other ways, the fighting will stop. The first thing we look at in coaching are the motivations driving your partner to behave the way he or she does.

3.  DEAL WITH THE INTERNAL CONFLICTS YOU HAVE THAT PROMPT YOU TO FIGHT:  Insecurities, fears, and jealousies won’t stop your partner from cheating on you, hurting you, lying to you, or any other behavior you don’t like. What your insecurities do are to make you behave in a negative way toward your partner. That makes it more likely, not less, that things won’t go the way you want them to.  When you can predict your partner’s behavior, you can plan to respond in a non-reactive way. Coaching clients practice with their coach so they can easily manage their partner.

BREAK UP, PHYSICALLY AND/OR EMOTIONALLY:  I include this simply because you need to know that if you do nothing, this is what marriage fights lead to.  This is the default choice.  Break up does not always mean divorce.  Sometimes it means living as roommates. Preventing this is the number one reason people use relationship coaching. 

Do you think that ending marriage fights depends on your husband or wife changing?

Actually, your husband or wife cannot fight without your cooperation.  This means that what you do can make all the difference.  And, when you make changes, it will result in your husband or wife changing. But, the changes must start with you, or they’re not likely to start at all.


1.       LESS STRESS:  Feeling freer and being comfortable in your home.

2.       MORE INTIMACY:  Feeling closer to your partner.

3.       A FRESH BEGINNING:  Being able to deal with the issues you previously needed to avoid.


Your chances of learning to end fighting are greatly improved when you get a relationship coach.  A relationship coach will help you to resist the temptation to fight again while you’re working on improving things.  And a relationship coach will help you to learn a system for resolving problems that you can use with your husband or wife.  If your relationship can’t take much more, now is the time for you to consider just one month of relationship coaching. For the good of you both.

Whatever you decide, make sure you make the decisions that are best for your long term happiness