heal relationship alexandria va

How to Heal a Relationship After a Fight

Handling Hurt and Painful Feelings in a Relationship (Video)

Fighting with your partner hurts so much!

It’s so hard to handle all the hurt and pain that comes after arguing with your spouse or partner. How do you fix a relationship when bringing things up causes another fight? Emotions seem to be part of the problem. But if you can speak from your deeper feelings under the issue, your emotions can also fuel healing.

You love your spouse, your partner. And you want to get past the issue and feel warm and close together again.

Why Are Relationship Problems So Painful?

Relationship problems trigger an intense kind of upset. You want to talk with your partner without getting angry. This is essential to your sense of safety.  That’s because humans need to seek out secure, deep attachment with each other. It’s our nature.

We rely on each other for protection, companionship, and love.  When something happens to disrupt the good feelings we have together, we feel threatened, both emotionally and on a basic physical level. Our nervous system may even signal downright panic.

Deep down, we know that if our love relationship goes away, we lose something important and vital to feeling safe, stable, and okay in the world.

When We’re Emotionally Triggered, We Can’t Stop Fighting

When we’re upset, our pulse goes up, and we start talking and from fear more than love.  The nervous system takes over. Suddenly another argument happens, even if we don’t want to keep fighting.

“I’m tired of asking you to clean up your dirty dishes! How many times do we have to fight about this?

Frustration, anger, and blame are protective emotions. We feel this way when we don’t understand why our partner is doing something that feels threatening to our sense of safety in the relationship.

To heal the relationship, the emotions we need to call on are

  • tenderness
  • warm regard
  • kindness

But it’s hard to summon up your softer side when you’re feeling attacked.

What Does it Take to Heal After a Fight?

Healing takes shifting into a new place in your mind, body, and emotional state. We need to slow way down. We need time to gather our thoughts and put words on our feelings.

It helps to remind yourself:

  • This is not my enemy
  • This is the person I love
  • This is the person whose wellbeing matters as much as my own

Calming the intense emotions of discord between partners is no small task! Repeated arguing creates a pattern of emotional overload. Angry feelings overwhelm the thinking process both people need to communicate from the heart. Instead of solving relationship problems, people get stuck fighting about the same things.  The situation can be so emotional, partners end up pushing each other away.

How can couples start coming together to help each other instead?

Healing Takes a Gentle Approach that Brings Thoughts and Feelings Together

When you can bring your whole being — your thinking brain AND your feeling brain — as a calm, receptive presence — you will be able to look at the problem, and find sides of it you can’t see when you’re triggered. You will be able to find new ways to connect in these gentler interactions between you.

Slowing down and shifting out of a triggered state is not easy.  You can do it on your own, but if a pattern has taken hold and anger keeps flaring up easily, counseling can help make the shift.  You’ll find new ways to talk to your partner to heal the issue that has you upset:

“It’s not about the dishes. It’s about my feeling you’re not really there for me. And that’s really scary.”

How to Find the Emotions that Heal Your Relationship

Emotions seem like part of the problem. But actually, they’re also part of the answer.

Healing begins with a process of going below the defensive and attacking emotions, to the core issue that is driving your distress.  De-escalating is the first step to finding a way back to feeling safe together, so the partners can talk in a whole hearted way.

Speaking your truth, gently from the heart, is the next step. Gentle words about what you fear and need makes the problem in the relationship more understandable to you both.

That’s where a skilled couples counselor can really help. Good couples therapy allows the couple see what is happening between them with out the blame and the shame.

No matter how tough or bad things feel right now, you can find a way back to calmer, more loving, and deeper connection with your partner.

Thank You for Sharing

Kris Rosenthal, MA, couples therapist and founder of Mount Vernon Family Therapy, explains how to handle hurt and painful feelings in your relationship so you can grow closer again.

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