How To Avoid Having The Same Fights Over And Over Again In Your Relationship
Fighting with your partner is the worst. It's sometimes necessary and even healthy to argue. But if you find that you keep rehashing the same issues over and over again, it can take a toll on your relationship. So what can you do to avoid having the same fights all the time? Experts say there are a few key things you can do.
If you and your partner keep fighting over the same thing, it's natural to assume that something is clearly wrong in the relationship. But as Mark B. Borg, Jr., Ph.D., clinical psychologist and co-author of Irrelationship tells Bustle, "Sometimes the fact that important issues come up again and again means less about things being wrong with the couple, and more about giving whatever the underlying issues that trigger and drive the fights their due."
In other words, your past emotional baggage may be the reason why you find yourself fighting with your partner over the same things. According to Dr. Borg, we often choose partners that we feel safe enough with so we can work through our unresolved emotional conflicts.
For instance, if you constantly get triggered by your partner not having enough time for the relationship, you may have dealt with neglect or abandonment in the past. "Psychoanalysts generally believe that the mind has a tendency to seek out repetition and then re-enact such dynamic in our most salient relationships," Dr. Borg says.
The good news is, you can break out of this. So here are some things you can do if you and your partner keep fighting over the same things, according to experts.
1. Identify Your Triggers
If you know a certain topic gets you heated, Amy McManus, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle, you're off to a good start. Once you can identify your triggers, you can learn to catch yourself. "Usually our body signals us first," she says. "Know your own body’s warning system before you reach the point of no return."
2. Have An Alternative Response On Hand
It's easy to immediately lash out when your partner says something that triggers your frustration. So according to McManus, it's important to have an alternate response on hand to avoid going there. "If you are able to tell your partner you're being triggered, by owning your own feelings rather than blaming them, you will totally change the dynamic," McManus says.
3. Practice "True" Communication
"One of the main reasons the same issues come up in relationships is because of a lack of true communication," Montrella Cowan, licensed psychotherapist and owner of Affinity Health Affairs, LLC, tells Bustle. "Oftentimes, couples don't even know what communication means." Communication isn't just about talking at each other in order to get your points across. Active listening is also major part of it. According to Cowan, once communication is thoroughly defined, you can begin to really start to talk and listen to one another. That way, you can finally resolve any issues that keep coming up.
4. Address What You're Actually Fighting About
When you and your partner keep fighting over the same things, chances are, the topic at hand somehow finds its way into completely unrelated disagreements. "The best way to move past fighting about the same things is to address the process and not the content," associate psychotherapist Lucas D. Saiter, M.A., MHC-LP, tells Bustle. For instance, Saiter often encourages couples to ask each other, "What's really going on right now that's not being said?" You and your partner aren't mind readers. If you get real about what you're really mad about, you can actually talk about it and find a way to resolve the issue.
5. Forget About Your Need To Be Right
If you're going to solve an issue once and for all, you'll need to put the ego away. Healthy relationships do require compromise. "Something may not be important to you, but if it matters to your partner, it needs to be addressed to their satisfaction," Lesli Doares, couples consultant and coach, tells Bustle. "If it matters to both of you, finding a solution you both can accept and implement requires making room for each other’s requirements."
6. Remember That Your Partner Isn't Your Ex
"Sometimes, we get in our own way because we believe we know what the other person wants because we hear it a certain way or that's been our experience with someone else," Doares says. "But these assumptions driving our behavior are not checked for validity." When you've been hurt before, it's easy to think everyone you date is going to be the same. When this happens, you're likely to get triggered by small things that previous partners have done in the past. But just remember, your partner isn't your ex. It's important to treat your partner as the unique individual that they are. This may be easier said than done, but it's necessary if you're looking to move forward.
7. Consider Counseling
If you and your partner keep fighting over the same things, Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin, licensed clinical professional counselor and certified Imago relationship therapist, tells Bustle, it's a sign that there's an opportunity for growth and healing. Sometimes, it isn't easy to resolve issues by yourselves. So if you feel like it's a good option for you, seeking a professional can be helpful. According to Slatkin, a skilled therapist can teach you how to have a safe conversation about these issues and explore any deeper underlying causes.
Fighting over the same issues can be frustrating. But as you can see, there are things you can do to stop. If you can learn how to communicate with each other, you can finally resolve the issue and actually move forward.