Fighting In Relationships
Why Do Men and Women Argue?
Do the differences between men and women contribute to the levels of fighting in relationships? They surely do. Scientists assert that men and women have different ways of dealing with arguments. Men are more left-brained and logical whilst women are more right-brained and more in touch with their emotions.
In earlier days when men went out to hunt animals, they had to switch off their emotions such as fear, in order to achieve their aim of capturing their prey. Women, on the other hand have always tended to be the nurturers and child-rearers and thus tend to have developed a richer emotional experience through their caring responsibilities.
Although these differences apply less these days as many men have become more feminine and many women more masculine, there still seem to be patterns that are biologically programmed which affect the way that you act in your communication, both generally and with the opposite sex. It seems that, as the identities of the genders have merged, it has created a generation of angry men and women and much confusion about expectations and gender roles. When you read this, you may see yourself as fitting in more with the masculine patterns if you are a woman or the feminine patterns if you are a man. This is perfectly OK - in order to change your patterns you first need to become aware of what they are and how they are not serving you.
How Relationship Fighting Starts
Let's look at how arguments and fights normally begin in relationships. Generally something is said or done which may be relatively minor. It triggers feelings in one partner of being unimportant, taken for granted, used, or giving more than they are getting back. However, this may just be a perception and may not be accurate. It is easy to forget about your partner's good points and all the things that they do for you when your anger is sparked habitually.
So, basically, one partner is unhappy because the other has said or done something which is not in accordance with their wishes. One way or another they let the other know. If communication patterns are poor, this generally doesn't go down too well. If resentment has been building up over this or other issues in either of the partners, this can cause a backlash which is far worse than the perceived original "crime".
How He Reacts
When a woman has a problem, a man generally just wants to solve it for her as quickly as possible. Men are solution oriented and don't feel comfortable with a woman's emotions. He therefore offers her solutions, explanations and justifications because he wants to have it go away. Generally this is not what she wants however and she may feel unheard or rejected. In this case, he may not like her responses.
When a man faces criticism or disapproval from a woman, he often hears blame. He usually takes this personally and feels that she is questioning his competence or not trusting him. He gets defensive. Men need to feel admired and respected and his perception of what she says hurts his pride. Her rejection of his solutions frustrates him and makes him feel insignificant.
Men can often stay cooler for longer than women during fighting in relationships because they can detach from their emotions and they are therefore logically better placed argue. This may actually fuel the fire of argument rather than resolving any problem. When she triggers his competitive spirit he may become determined to win and some men can even make the most illogical arguments sound believable. He forgets to be loving and has to be right even at her expense. Frustration can quickly turn to anger and trigger patterns of aggression or violence (if this is the kind of man that he is) or he may hit the wall or storm out to get away.
How She Reacts
For a woman who is in disagreement with a man, his solutions are not what she wants to hear. She is looking for love and connection to be part of the final outcome. She wants validation of her feelings and to feel that she is cherished. Often a woman just wants to believe that she is more important than anything else in his life. The fact that she was feeling insignificant, ignored or put upon may have been part of the trigger for the argument.
When he becomes cool and distant, she often gets emotionally upset because she is experiencing some pain around the issue, the argument and the disconnection she feels from her man. She wants to feel heard and to receive understanding of her emotions. Unfortunately, this is difficult for many men who are simply not able to empathise in the way she wants. She feels upset, emotional, unsupported and unloved. Logic goes out of the window and negative emotions come to the fore. She may cry or worse.
Rejection and Pain
So the issue has been raised and a lifetime of previous wounds may now be open. Both partners are on the defensive and their subconscious patterns of dealing with relationship issues have been triggered. They are not just dealing with the issue at hand but with every associated emotion in their subconscious that relates to this problem. They both feel rejected and they both feel in pain. Their patterns are unlikely to be healthy in such cases. In these situations where pain takes over, a person will not be able to think of their partner. They will always put their own needs first. Hurting the other now seems totally justifiable. The fire is fuelled and the fight is in full swing. The situation deteriorates to a stalemate and no resolution is possible until they have cooled off.
Often one partner will walk away leaving a stony silence and a situation that will not be resolved until either climbs down and makes an effort to make peace. Often it is the man who withdraws first. A woman may want to carry on in an attempt to resolve and restore connection but this is rarely possible under the circumstances.
Threats and pain are usually characteristic of these types of relationships. Resentment continues to build as the underlying issues are never satisfactorily resolved. They disappear into a pattern of make up and break up until the resentment build up is too much and eventually blows the relationship apart.
Change Your Communication Patterns to Stop Fighting in Relationships
If your patterns in relationships are volatile and angry, you highly unlikely to see what is going on in the heat of an argument, but you can do some analysis later on when you have calmed down to try and see what your patterns are and those of your partner. Awareness is always the first step to resolution and when you know where your communication is going wrong and what triggers these outbursts, you can take steps to replace your patterns with much healthier patterns of communication.
These include dealing with issues early on in a mature fashion so that resentment doesn't build, cooling off before you approach your partner and developing acceptance, appreciation and understanding of your partner's needs. There really is no need for fighting in relationships. With practice and awareness it can be eliminated for good.