Couples Counseling Can Reduce Arguments

September 28, 2009 by

In couples counseling we often deal with how to reduce, fight fair or even eliminate arguments. Do you often argue in your marriage or relationship? Do you and your partner seem to have the same argument/fight repeatedly? Does it feel like you resolve the issue for a day or two but then it quickly returns? Do these arguments prevent you from connecting in ways that you both enjoy and being happy and satisfied in your relationship?

Being fairly new to marriage myself and also early in my career as a marriage counselor, I have the above questions on my mind a lot in my personal life and in couples counseling. Why do couples fight so much and why does it seem so hard to repair connection after an argument? When my partner and I argue we end up feeling exhausted, misunderstood and confused. Most of the time we forget where the argument started in the first place. On a good day, we will laugh it off; on a bad day, we will remain safely distant from one another, hoping it will pass, letting aggression out in small passive ways, which in return creates a new argument. It is a grim situation that many or most married couples find themselves in. Those of us practicing couples counseling know these arguments seem like small issues but normally have deep underlying wounds, unmet needs and pain surrounding them.

The most dysfunctional aspect of arguments is that we react to our partners in the very way that guarantees that they will not understand us, validate or empathize with our needs. When we don’t get what we want from our partners, we react by getting angry, sulking, distancing, attacking, blaming and shaming. This in return makes our partners angry, hurt, blaming and shaming. Then being angry and or distant make us angrier and it escalates onward and upwards. All the fighting triggers are reptilian brain response until we are doing the fight or flight dance all night.

Couples Counseling Can Deliver Solutions To Reduce Arguments

What would it look like too repair an argument? It would mean that both partners are heard, validated and empathized with by the other partner. Each partner would create time to mirror, validate and empathize with their partners experience, wounds and unmet needs.  No one would try to be the top dog! We would throw away the idea that someone is always right and someone is always wrong. We would create space and intention to step into the others shoes with curiosity and love.  Marriage counselors help people to learn how to make this happen.

Intentional, is a key word in resolving arguments. Love, compassion and understanding are not heavily wired into our brains, especially when we feel threatened. Most of us need to learn skills to express our needs without feeling fear and shame. We also need a lot of support to hear from our partners how incomplete we are. Being a couples counselor and a partner in couples counseling, it is amazing to see how far some outside support and intentional dialogue can take a couple.