We love them. We have committed to them. We share life with them every day. They are our best friend, our partners in life.
Still, fighting with our spouse is a regular part of a marital relationship. Why do we get so annoyed, so argumentative, with the person we chose above every other person in this world?
We fight with our spouse for a lot of reasons. And not all of them are bad. Here is a closer look at the top three reasons for our marital spats and how to navigate them effectively.
1. Diverging Perspectives
Before you were married, both you and your spouse belonged to a different family. A family that had its own culture and traditions. It’s own little sayings and a unique approach to celebrating holidays. Your family made important decisions, such as where to eat dinner on special occasions and which way to put the toilet paper on the roll.
When you get married, you leave your previous family and begin a new one. It is not really from scratch though because each of you are carrying the foundations laid by the family before you.
Most marital spats are the result of divergent perspectives. We have developed patterns during all those years of bottom-access toilet paper mountings and gift exchanges on Christmas Eve. Without really knowing it, we have developed an expectation for what family looks like. And why not? We’ve never really seen anything different (at least not on an intimate scale).
But different is not bad. The newness of marriage is not a condemnation of your family of origin. And your spouse’s patterns are not a condemnation of who you are or what you want.
The beauty of marriage is two people coming together and sharing life. Those divergent perspectives converging into a shared experience of togetherness. That same beauty can be destructive if we are threatened rather than inspired by it.
2. Seeking Upper Hand
Our world is obsessed with power and fame. We are naturally creatures of self-worship. We make an idol out of our emotions and preferences.
When a single person imagines marriage, they imagine how it will make them feel. How many of their problems will be shared and how much they will be comforted. Singles rarely imagine sharing someone else’s pain, having to carry burdens that did not originate inside of themselves.
But this is the reality of marriage.
Many of our fights stem from one simple truth: we are trying to use our spouse to get our way. We are fighting to see who is going to be the Alpha. Who is going to submit to whom.
We want so badly to be heard. We want it so bad we often stop listening in order to fight for our own voice. And that is a dangerous posture within a marriage. Recognize when you are fighting just for the sake of trying to take control of the relationship or the situation in order to shape it into the expectations you have for it.
3. Gain Understanding
Not all arguing is bad. Some amalgamation of the two situations above is necessary for couples to learn and grow and understand one another. The fighting becomes destructive when the above scenarios are played out for their own good.
Healthy argumentation is about self-expression, compromise, and seeking a shared understanding. We argue to get further into the truth, deeper into the heart of unity.
All marital fighting can end this way. It can also end in abuse or divorce. The choice is in how we handle the conflict. And how aware we are of the reasons for it and the opportunity therein.