Note: This is the second of a two-part series. Click here for part one
Think for a moment. What triggers the fights in your relationship? Do minor things build up until they explode? Do ongoing conflicts erupt from time to time? Are there rude little jabs or sarcastic responses? Or perhaps it is name calling, disrespectful or mean-spirited behaviors, the cold silent treatment or your partner’s refusal to talk with you that feels so provocative and aggravating? Maybe it’s the accumulation of a number of slights—both large and small—that make you feel that you’re not respected or valued?When you’re in a fight with an intimate partner, do you usually know exactly what it is that you’re fighting for, or do you figure out the bigger issue later on? How confident are you that you fully understand what your partner is fighting for—and what triggers him or her? Following is a continuation of couple’s conflicts and issues, and what you and your partner may actually be fighting for:
FIGHT: Your partner repeatedly loses control of his/her temper and blows up at you.
REAL ISSUE: Safety. Is it safe for me to be around you?
FIGHT: He got home two hours late and didn’t call ahead of time.
REAL ISSUE: How important am I to you? Where do I fit in as a priority in your life?
FIGHT: You decide the furniture needs to be replaced, and your partner resists.
REAL ISSUE: Power struggle/control issue. Who calls the shots around here? Whose rules are we agreeing to live by? There may also be an additional issue of one person feeling that the other one is acting unilaterally and not as part of a team.
FIGHT: You discover he has been visiting internet porn sites.
REAL ISSUE: Trust and betrayal. There are certain things that feel sacred in a relationship, and this feels like a betrayal, because he clearly must not be happy or satisfied with you.
FIGHT: You asked her to watch her spending of money and to keep it under control, but she was frivolous and excessive instead.
REAL ISSUE: You don’t feel she’s got your best interests at heart, and you don’t feel important or valued by her. She’s ignoring what you said mattered to you, and she isn’t honoring your needs or wishes.
FIGHT: Differing sexual appetites. You want to make love considerably more frequently than your partner does.
REAL ISSUE: Do I have to give up me and what matters to me in order to be with you? Can’t you give me what I want? Plus, your partner isn’t treating your needs and wishes as important.
FIGHT: He is either working, or on the computer or watching TV, and therefore has very little time for you.
REAL ISSUE: Things are too distant. We’re not close enough, and I want more than you’re giving. Plus, how important am I to you, anyway?
FIGHT: You discover that she’s gotten very chummy with a male co-worker, and they’ve met for drinks after work several times.
REAL ISSUE: Trust and the fear of betrayal. Can I trust that you’re mine and that I don’t have to worry that you’re looking to leave me? Plus, you’re not keeping me informed about what you’re doing. You may also need some reassurance that nothing is happening that could threaten the relationship.