Marital Fighting: When is it Healthy Fighting, And When is it Abuse? (Pt 1)

A man and woman fighting. She is wearing boxing gloves and punching the man in the face.
Fighting isn’t all bad. It can make your relationship strong. But only if you do it in a healthy way!

That title might have you scratching your head a little bit. Healthy fighting? Since when can having a fight be healthy, especially for a married couple? Actually it can! Believe it or not, there are certain instances when fighting can actually make your relationship stronger, and help you work certain issues out in an open way, so they can be dealt with. The problem, it seems, lies not in whether you fight with your spouse, but rather HOW you fight. So let’s take a look at the differences between the two.

Fighting is inevitable in most relationships.

Couples disagree on things. From parenting styles to politics, couples all over the world have arguments about things they feel strongly about. Having a fight with your partner doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed, or that you can’t get past the problem. What matters is the way you go about it. Are you airing your views in a respectful way despite your anger, and listening to what your spouse? Or are you screaming at them, refusing to hear what they have to say, and calling them derogatory names? The way you fight determines how likely your marriage is to survive.

Signs that your fighting style is healthy:

  • You and your partner listen to what the other has to say
  • No matter how angry you get, you never call each other names
  • You don’t drag up the past and use former failings as a verbal weapon
  • You stick to the topic at hand
  • You don’t let your anger get the better of you, taking time outs if you need them to cool down and clear your head
  • You apologize sincerely when you screw up, and try in earnest not to do it again

Signs that your fighting style is abusive:

  • You shout over your partner, interrupt them, and don’t allow them to say what’s on their mind
  • You call your spouse belittling or derogatory names
  • You break things, throw things, or act in a threatening manner
  • You make unfounded accusations, and won’t let go of past indiscretions
  • You refuse to ever admit a mistake, and won’t apologize even when you were wrong 
  • You resort to physical violence

What your fighting style says about you and your relationship.

If your fighting style looks more like the second group of signs than the first, then you may need to consider some anger management therapy. And if your partner’s fighting style looks like the second list, you may want to line up a really good divorce attorney. Because it’s not likely that your marriage is going to survive. Join us next time for a look at a few basic fighting rules you can use to help you and your partner have more productive arguments in future, with less damage to your marriage.