“It’s like we are stuck in a loop,” my friend said. She and her husband had the same fight for the seventh time in a month, and she seemed to be at her wit’s end. Previous experience had taught me not to try to play devil’s advocate so I just let her rant. When a couple fights about the same thing over and over again, it usually points to some underlying, unresolved issues. And I didn’t want to stir the hornet’s nest.
She and her husband had been fighting about his tendency to be late for as long as I can remember.
While she loved him, it was getting difficult for her to wait for him every day. She hated it when she got late because of him and it seemed like they were really going through some trouble. It bothered me though. Why is it that they kept fighting over the same thing for so long? Can fighting with spouse all the time be healthy? Their issues were nowhere close to being resolved and so I took it upon myself to figure out if it’s normal for couples to fight and why this tendency takes hold.
Related Reading: Why Do Fights Become More Important Than Relationships?
Why A Couple Fights About the Same Things?
My research helped me understand that couples fight over little things all the time and it is not uncommon in committed relationships for two partners to keep raking up the same issues over and over again. It is like a fight gets recycled but the issue never gets resolved. The root cause of these repetitive fights can be traced to the following three reasons:
1. Couple fights may be due to underlying issues
When a couple fights about the same old things – a wet towel careless thrown on the bed, trash not taken out, not showing up on time, spending too much time on the phone – there are often underlying issues at play. An outsider may wonder why do couples fight over nothing but it is not these little issues that they’re really fighting about.
It is possible that two people have certain unresolved issues that make them resent each other on a subconscious level. While these issues are not acknowledged or addressed, each other’s behavioural traits and habits become the triggers to unleash that pent up anger. Perhaps, they feel disrespected, underappreciated or unloved in the relationship. Or their partner has done something in the past – cheated, lied, been emotionally distant or verbally abusive – to hurt them and those residual emotions remain unresolved.
2. Upbringing can also be to blame
Our parents taught us to stand up for ourselves and that was good advice. However, if you didn’t always see healthy conflict resolution at home, it is only natural to unwittingly internalise the tendency to recycle arguments. You saw arguments and feelings being swept under the carpet.
You saw your parents bottle emotions up and then have sudden, irrational eruptions. And you thought that’s how problems in relationships are dealt with.
We tend to use our parents as templates and aren’t aware of the faults in their ways. When couples argue constantly, it can well be a reflection of their upbringing. They were doing the best they knew, but you can do better. Not bottling up your emotions and letting ego govern your communication with your partner is a good place to start.
3. The inherent differences in values can also cause a couple’s fights
It is hard to pinpoint the number one thing couples fight about but one of the top reasons for discord between partners is a difference in the value systems. These inherent differences govern your outlook toward life, and if you and your partner have diverse perspectives on certain core beliefs, it is bound to lead to fighting with spouse all the time.
Religious beliefs, political ideologies, views on money, the idea of a family, attitude and ways of being are some such core beliefs that can become triggers for a couple’s fights over the same issues or problems. For instance, if you’re not religious and your partner is, every festival or religious occasion can become a contentious issue. Let’s say, you want to play cards and drink with your friend on Diwali but your religious partner would rather perform a pooja, cook a meal for the family and stay home. So, naturally, you will keep fighting about this year after year.
That’s why it is important to assess whether you and your significant other share the same beliefs before entering into a long-term, committed relationship.
If you let these little issues slide at the beginning of your relationship, it is unfair to expect them to change now. Forcing each other to do things which they don’t like doesn’t work when you’re in it for the long run. A healthy respect for these differences can help you navigate the problems that come up.
Related Reading: 8 Ways To Reconnect After A Big Fight
5 Ways To Break The Cycle OF Couple Fights About the Same Issues
Having the same fight, again and again, can be exhausting. You may end up feeling like your partner and you speak two different languages. With each fight, the frustration of not being able to get through to each other grows and so does your anger and resentment. However, not all is lost even when couples argue constantly. You can break the cycle of fighting about the same issues and bounce back from this seemingly hopeless place in your relationship. Here are 5 ways to do it:
1. Identify the triggers
Identify the triggers that cause arguments and fights. When you spot that trigger the next time, instead of becoming agitated, distance yourself from it. Take the time to cool down, hold off any communication with your partner until then. Once that moment has passed, try not to bring up the issue again.
2. Own your feelings
When couples argue constantly, blame-shifting becomes a constant theme between them. Simply because it is easy to lash out and blame your partner than accept and own up to your own feelings. However, by doing so you can completely change the dynamics of your equation and nip a potential fight in the bud. So, the next time, instead of telling your partner what they did wrong, try focusing on how their actions made you feel.
3. Try to listen
The absence of true communication can also a common reason behind a couple’s fights and inability to break from the cycle of having the same arguments again and again. Practising true communication means listening to what the other person has to say and understanding the situation from their perspective. So, give that a chance to resolve this deadlock you seem to be caught in.
4. Address the real issues
If you’re fighting about the same things on a loop, more often than not some underlying issues are at play. Look at them as the disease plaguing your relationship whereas these fights as just the symptoms. To heal, you have to focus on weeding out the disease, not the symptoms. So, stop brushing your feeling under the carpet and brace yourself to address the real issues in your relationship.
5. Seek professional help
If you can’t make headway on your own, don’t hesitate in seeking help from a professional. Couples’ therapy or counselling session can act as effective catalysts in helping you work through your problems. Couples counselling is an affordable way to save your relationship and we can help you on the front.
Fighting over the same issues can be an overwhelming experience that can take a toll on your relationship. But the situation can be diffused. All it takes is getting to the bottom of why a couple fights and then working your way out of these patterns.