Marital Fighting Is An “Abnormal” Normal

Most people, and even most marriage experts, think marriage fighting is “normal”. Fighting is even part of how family life is portrayed on TV, in the movies, and novels. It is truly accepted as normal. Unless a fight escalates into an outright drunken brawl, no one thinks to do anything, or see any real problem.

If there is any common debate at all about marital fighting, it is about how much abuse a woman (sometimes a man) should take before someone calls the cops. Hitting a wife is not that uncommon in some quarters, to this day, but it always comes from fighting. So, if physical abuse is the end game of fighting, and love and connection is the end game of the opposite of fighting, why would anyone accept fighting in their marriage?

Marriage Fighting Is An "Abnormal" Normal

 

We have come a long way, but not far enough.

Is marriage fighting normal?

Depends on what you mean by normal, doesn’t it? Although fights may seem normal because it is generally accepted, it’s not the right kind of normal. Slavery was once normal, too. Normal is not always “normal.”

I don’t see it the “normal” way, nor do I live that way.

For me, and for the thousands of couples who have learned my positive approach, marriage is all about joy, from being with the one you love; no fighting at all. So, even if I am in the minority I am right about not fighting in marriage. Because I see fighting as a strange “normal” in marriage.

To me fighting, or arguing, in marriage, means a couple is pretty much missing the point of marriage, altogether.

It’s unfortunate that fights are still commonly accepted as part of marriage.

Why do I say this?

Because if you do something that “everyone” does, you think it is okay.

You don’t readily recognize the ill effects. You just go on lowering the love level in your marriage, and think it is fine; “everyone does it” is an excuse that hurts the whole family.

Many parents try to hide their fights from their children; and that’s a good thing. But doesn’t that hint at the wrongness of fighting? Although people accept fighting as a just “what you do” they don’t want their kids to see them fighting because

  1. They are embarrassed by their fighting when they tell their kids to not fight, and
  2. They don’t want to set an example. They know kids learn from what they see (not what they are told).

Think about it.

You can show affection in front of your kids, no problem. It sets a great example for kids to see parents expressing love. But not fighting. Couples should never show hostility to each other; but never in front of their kids.

Doesn’t that speak volumes?

I once got a call from a man who said he and his wife considered physical altercations as part of their “culture.” They wanted me to accept that he hit her as a condition for working with me. I told them we could discuss it, but it will never be an acceptable practice. I told him the proper culture of marriage supersedes any other culture, anyway. Maybe his wife accepts being hit because she is afraid of him.  But all he was doing was justifying a terrible thing he did. He thought he made it okay by ascribing it to culture.

We are very clever when we defend ignorance!

It is an extraordinary thing how we justify doing certain things we either know is wrong and harmful, just because we have “always done it that way”, or because “everyone” does it that way.

If you take a closer look, everyone can see clearly that fighting is a contradiction to marriage vows.

How can you, at the same time, love cherish etc, when you fight?

It can’t be done.

Besides, who wants to live in a combat zone?

Marriage is not meant for fighting. You and your soulmate should want a love-centered marriage.

Why would you make a beautiful meal, set a beautiful table, and then eat like an animal?

Animals fight because they have no self-control and react instinctually. We, as humans, are not supposed to fight with the ones we love.

When I first began working with couples, I realized this idea of fighting being considered to be “normal” was plain crazy.

My parents fought, my previous marriage included fighting, though not yelling, so much. All my friends fought, and as said before, it was considered normal. But I wanted to help couples have a better marriage, so I recognized a hard, VERY hard, fact. Fighting is a contradiction to the logic of a happy marriage.

Why allow it?

 

Now, How To Learn to Stop Fighting!

Anything I do, I want to do it, to accomplish something. Click To Tweet

If I go to a movie or concert, I want to be entertained. If I go to a house of worship (any religion is good to me), I want to feel the presence of God. If I do something, anything, it has a purpose. Even hanging out. I do that to relax. Why not marriage?

Marriage is ‘doing’ something. True, it is something you do for a lifetime, but it still doing something.

So, what is its purpose?

Now, this is a very big topic, but rather than get into how I arrived at my conclusions, because it requires a lot of explanation, let’s just sum it up into one of the PRIMARY reasons to get married. I am sure you will agree that to be happy from experiencing unconditional love is a primary purpose. Remember, I said purposes is a big topic. But let’s just agree we all get married to be happy.

You don’t know anyone who got married to suffer, do you?

Now, we all can agree that while you are fighting, at that moment of time, you are (obviously) not feeling anything close to unconditional love. Sure, it is still there; it is always “there”. But it is mostly obscured by anger, defensiveness, and effort to butt (like a mad goat), and rebut.

During a fight, and all during the period leading up to a fight, your mind is not on love or happiness. You don’t feel loved, and you don’t feel love for your spouse. Your mind and body are gearing up for war!

And what does that get you? Really?

It gets you stomach aches, tears, hair loss, and a vibration of unhappiness, that spreads ripple like throughout the house.

Marriage fighting is fixable. No couple is forced to fight with one another. You have free will. You can choose to end fighting in your marriage.

Maybe it’s a habit, as it is in some homes, where couples fight on Saturdays. But you have the power to change your habits. You have the ability to stop fighting. But sometimes changing a habit is not easy; I know. There are ways to improve your ability to control habits, but let’s stick to the one topic of fighting.

The following points should be ingrained in your consciousness, so you can live in harmony in your marriage. To stop fighting, always remember:

  1. Fighting is a destructive part of marriage. You can live without it, and your marriage will be happier.
  2. When one refuses to fight, the other will follow. You can choose to not react if your spouse starts an argument.
  3. You can do it. You can decide not to fight. You have the power to overcome the temptation.
  4. Your greatest tool is oppositional thinking. This is just one way to avoid fighting and practice opening your heart.

 

Let’s begin with the last point; oppositional thinking

Because it may sound like something other than what I intend.

Oppositional thinking is when you don’t simply try to stop a fight that is coming on, but you strive to do opposite thinking, and acting, that pulls you away from the fight.

An example:

You are angry because you just found out something that is not good; and it can be very bad. Your mind (it isn’t “you”, but it’s your mind) gets reactive and wants to lash out. Oppositional thinking is what you use. You stop your mind from continuing on that track of anger, and you force it to go the opposite way. So, instead of lashing out, you think of a reason to feel love for your spouse, and run with it. You make yourself happier; than you were mad, and you express loving compliments instead of complaining.

Sounds hard? I know.

But it is MUCH easier than going the way of the fight. Think about it. If you fight, you and your spouse will say and do hurtful things, and you will get into a cycle of pain, for a while at least. But if you put the brakes on, and go in the other direction, you will have saved yourself.

 

NOTE: If you just try to stop from fighting, you will not be able to.

 

The force of the momentum that got hold of you will continue to pull you into the fight. You have to exert the opposite force to remove yourselves from the clutches of the fight. Trust me, and you can experiment. You have to exert the opposite force. It’s just like if you were sliding down a hill.

I will be perfectly honest with you.

Couples who don’t think they fight are rare.

But some who don’t think they fight might as well be because they are creating the same results, they just don’t scream and shout. Instead they may act cold, tease each other, give the “look”, snap, pout, get standoffish, or show their anger in other, more “sophisticated’ ways.

Don’t fool yourselves!

I know this doesn’t cover everything. But there are many angles to this fighting thing, and I can only cover so much in a short article. And for that, I’m sorry.

Some people would call me up (I don’t take calls anymore, now that they can use our contact form) and ask for a solution to fighting, or arguing, or a family dispute, or whatever. Sometimes, if I could see that they were just stuck a little, I would offer help.

That happened a lot!

But sometimes people truly need a more foundational approach, and they needed to read one of my books. No two situations are the same.

The thing is this. If you are suffering from chronic fighting you need a more holistic approach to your marriage. Marriage is supposed to be a wonderful and exciting thing 24/7 – 365 days a year, so if there is something that is “missing” it is usually just knowledge.

Another big common error people make is thinking marriage is a done thing from the time you get married; it is not! It is a living thing. Every day you add to it. What you add to it is what makes it what it is. Fighting takes away from your happiness.

I’m married, too.

My marriage is amazing, and it gets more amazing every day. Not because I am amazing, although my wife is definitely amazing. But because my wife and I took the time to learn about marriage, and we employ what we learned.

You can do the same thing, and have the same results. Then you will realize that you got married to be happy. You got married to feel unconditional love. And you will be happy, and you will feel love.

Nobody is perfect, but you can make your marriage pretty close to perfect. Then you will feel the joy you deserve.

Last thing; no matter how high the emotional temperature has risen or how deep into it you are, it only takes one of you to stop a fight. If the other is aching for a comeback, and you don’t provide one, they will have to stop at some point. Now, go solve it so you can take the next step in creating a dream your marriage. Trust me. It’ll all be worth it.

Paul Friedman
Paul Friedman
Founder / Director
Paul has written two books, produced several video programs, regularly speaks on marriage, and continues to guide the growth of The Marriage Foundation to help enrich the marriages of couples around the world.

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