Timely articles on mental health issues and spirituality
Marriage is a big topic that deserves to get a lot of attention, and as the saga of COVID-19 plugs on marriages are still in trouble. In this article I would like to focus on a different aspect of marriage…fighting. Though this topic is unpleasant to talk about it is a normal part of every marriage. Yes, fighting is completely normal and healthy when kept within certain boundaries. Though this part of marriage is not pleasant, it is necessary.
Fighting provides a necessary release of emotion that often gets bottled up in our society. With emotions running higher than ever due to COVID that release of emotion is even more necessary than usual. In therapy I always tell my couples that I worry more about couples that don’t fight than couples that do. This is because fighting not only releases emotion but can be a major catalyst for communication if handled properly. Also, fighting indicates that there is some baseline of caring there. After all, you don’t fight with someone that you don’t care about.
As I referenced earlier, fighting must be kept within certain boundaries in order to be healthy. There are several fair fighting rules out there that can be helpful with this. Here are some fair fighting rules from the famous marriage therapists, the Gottmans.
No name calling
These are not hard and fast rules. I would encourage you to change and adapt them to your unique situation. For example, some of us use sarcasm as a second language and it is not as offensive to us, but insults are out of the question. I encourage you to talk to your partner and figure out your own unique boundaries that will help you fight in a healthier way. It will never be a fun or pleasant thing, but fighting leads us to stronger relationships.
Laura Dempsey is a licensed social worker and therapist with nearly 20 years of experience counseling children and families.