Marriage Therapists Solve the 10 Most Common Fights Couples Have (PHOTOS)

Maressa Brown | Jan 4, 2015 Love & Sex
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  • The 'You Take Me for Granted' Fight

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    After so many years together, couples don't always remember to say "thank you" or to make gestures that show appreciation for their spouse, and in turn, one or both partners may feel slighted that their efforts, work, and commitment are ignored and unappreciated, notes Raymond.

    "The guy makes the travel arrangements and fixes the oil leak in the car before they go on a weekend trip, but his wife doesn't notice or comment," she elaborates. "He feels bad, and when he can't take feeling invisible any longer, he attacks her. She did the packing and the food preparation. He hasn't thanked her or commented on her thoughtfulness and foresight. She is crushed and attacks him when she is at her bursting point. These events are daily occurrences that fuel perpetual fights."

    You'd think the solution might be as easy as trying to show one another appreciation, but it's about more than that. "Both have to do things because they want to rather than to try to impress or get noticed," Raymond explains. "But alongside that, they both need to talk to each other about all the times they felt invisible as kids and how hard they tried to get their parents' attention. Empathy will then oil the wheels for a better understanding of each other. When both have not been seen and acknowledged as kids, it's hard for them to do it for each other. So they have to make a conscious effort to SEE the other, not just want to be seen."

  • The Work-Life Balance Fight

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    One spouse may work longer hours than the other, or even travel frequently for business, which can set the stage for a common conflict, notes Raymond.

    "The one who is upset feels that they are less important than their spouse's work," she explains. "They set up hoops for their spouse to prove that they matter more than work, heralding another constant series of unwinnable fights. The one who works a lot feels unfairly criticized, since they are apparently making the money that enables a certain lifestyle to be maintained. Issues of trust, jealousy, suspicion, envy, and fear stoke the fire."

    The solution: "Express your underlying insecurities to your partner so that your fears can be understood rather than heard as criticism," she advises. "It usually means tracing your fears to your childhood. Perhaps one or both of your parents was away a lot, and it created tension and threatened the stability of your family. The one working a lot needs to express what it means to have to choose between work and family and what models he/she is following from his/her childhood. The personal element needs to be removed, because that's what starts the fight, and it's rarely personal. All the issues of trust, jealousy etc., dissipate."

  • The In-Laws Fight

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    At one time or another, just about all couples face a conflict revolving around a mother- or father-in-law who has overstepped their boundaries. If you and your spouse don't agree about those boundaries, a fight is inevitable.

    The solution, of course, is to get on the same page. Osterhaus recommends discussing any problems you have with your in-laws honestly. "Explain that you need to have your partner's cooperation in heading off the in-law's controlling or meddling behavior," he advises. Ideally, presenting a united front as a couple is essential to moving past in-law issues.

    More from The Stir8 Tips for Splitting Housework With Your Husband to Avoid Fights

  • The Fight About Fighting

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    If you can't even begin to keep track of all the fights, and it feels like you can't communicate without a conflict erupting, it's possible you'll find yourself actually arguing about always arguing. "Sometimes, somebody is a drama queen who is so used to their mode of communicating being fighting," says Amatenstein.

    In these cases, she advises each spouse work on themselves. "If you're constantly blurting out whatever nasty thing comes into your brain, that's not your partner's fault, it's yours," she notes. "Part of couples' work is helping people do individual work, because you have to look at your own [issues], own them, and start trying to control them better."

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