Having once in a while disagreements in a relationship is common, but big, frequent fights can be exhausting and creates a lot of anxiety in a relationship.
When it gets to the point, where you're just yelling and fighting; where you stop listening and understanding, it's no longer about the communication.
It becomes all about relieving all the high emotions - the anger, frustration or whatever it is that you're experiencing in this moment. And at that point, neither you nor your partner is able to hold and comfort each other's emotions, because you're so caught-up in your own, there's no emotional bandwidth.
And often times, it simply comes down to having different styles of resolving conflicts - and there are two conflict resolution styles in a relationship that are most common:
The first style is - when people who want to talk things out right away, and resolve everything so that can feel emotionally safe and comforted. People who generally feel anxious or don’t like conflict usually prefer this style, because leaving a fight unresolved, when for a short period of time can increase their anxiety.
And, the second style is - when people who like to take some time and need space before they can attempt to resolve an argument. This style is usually preferred by people who are more introspective, or who need to withdraw when feeling emotionally overstimulated to collect themselves and feel calm again.
So, what is your style? And does your partner have the same style as you, or does it differ? Let me know in the comments down below.
Also, keep in mind that these preferences are often a part of something bigger called “attachmeny styles,” which simply means how a person connects and relates with another person. There are 4 such styles, and understanding them can help you understand why you or your partner has a preference for one style over the other.
But for now let’s get back to how these two styles work or don’t work together. If both partners have the same style - whether that means that you both like to resolve issues right away, or you both need some time to ground yourself first, then that’s great. It works well together, because you both have similar needs, and you just do what you naturally want to do, and it works for the other person. With most couples, tho, that’s not the case - often one person would have style #1 and the other would prefer the second style.
Now this can be very tricky because the person who wants to talk right away might feel ignored or not cared for, and the person who wants some time or space, might feel like their boundaries aren’t being respected. The issues with forcing one style or the other: For a person who wants to resolve things right away, wanting space or time first might seem like withdrawing from the relationship. It might even feel like the other person doesn’t even care to resolve the issues. For people who grew up in a strict household, the idea of your significant other being upset or angry can be even more uncomfortable. On the other hand, a person who needs some time to collect their thoughts and emotions first, before they can talk about the issue… they often need to do that because in that moment, when they’re fighting, they are not in the headspace to hear what the other person has to say. They feel overwhelmed with all the emotions and energy.
But, the good news is that there is a relatively easy solution to this. The key to stop fighting when emotions are running so high - is to take a break in that moment, and then reconnect when you both feel a little calmer - so you can really communicate what you want your partner to hear, and vice versa.
But... how do I do that? In that moment I can't stop myself... I just feel so upset and angry.
Of course you do... that's the fight or flight response of your brain - and you're engaging in "fight" bc your brain feels emotionally threatened. Your emotions don't feel safe in that moment, and that's why you're fighting back. Which is why it becomes difficult to communicate calmly - to really express how you feel and what you need in that moment, and to hear what your partner is trying to say as well.
You’re either just seeking emotional comfort, which isn’t bad in general, but when it’s that vague, often you won’t even know what will comfort you in that moment. Or, you’re just trying to “win” that argument, which is never good in a relationship. Remember that you both are on the same team - not on opposite teams. And all of this is happening, simply because the emotional part of the brain is much faster than the rational part, and when emotions feel that threatened and are that activated.
The best and the easiest way to get through this difficulty is to take a break in that moment using the 3-step process I'll be sharing in a moment. Maybe even just 5 or 10 minutes. But, it will still help. Ideally you want to be in different space physically during the time-out. Don’t understand the non-verbal communication that happens when you’re not talking but still stay in the same room.