Why Does Fighting with Your Partner Hurt So Much?
Relationship problems trigger huge emotions. You want to talk with your spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend without getting angry. So why does it keep happening?
Fighting threatens a person’s sense of safety. People often fight out of fear without even realizing it.
We rely on each other for protection, companionship, and love. It’s human to seek out secure, deep attachment with each other. It’s our nature. When something happens to hurt what we have together, we feel threatened. Our body gets triggered to act in self-defense. 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
A sense of danger drives up your pulse. It literally raises your blood pressure. That’s when partners 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
But it’s hard to summon up your softer side when you’re feeling attacked.
What Does it Take to Heal After a Fight?
First, know when you’re triggered, and take a break. You can’t solve problems when you’re so angry, you can’t speak gently.
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. It takes thinking and feeling to communicate from the heart without fighting.
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 hurts like crazy.”
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. We use Emotionally Focused Therapy, or EFT for couples. EFT allows most couples to be more open and find more healing together.
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.
3 More Resources to Help You
- Find out about our EFT workshop for couples in Alexandria, Virginia. This is a cost-effective way to learn how to understand each other better and help your relationship feel right to both of you.
- Sign up for a brief email series on creating connection – it’s free.
- Call us to work with a counselor trained to help you: