We all want to hear that we are right; we have a legitimate reason to be angry and we want that to be validated. After all, we are trying our best and our partner (obviously!!!)couldn’t care less. Right?

What you need to know before you start the next fight with your partner

Right! The problem is, the same applies to your partner. They think along the same lines. Most of the time they actually feel the same feelings you may experience! When we lift the veil of anger we tend to discover the ‘weaker’ more uncomfortable but very common experiences of fear, sadness, worthlessness, failure or abandonment.

Anger is easier than Fear!

When we fight with the person we love, it is usually an attempt to prevent us from having to experience those uncomfortable, threatening feelings. Anger is a powerful defender, not only against another intruder from the outside but it also masks the painful internal experiences listed above.

As you remain on your battlement of righteousness and use your weapons of contempt, manipulation, shouting, coercing or stone-walling, your focus remains on the apparent external threat as the reason for your anger. Yet, if you honestly look at what your partner is doing or saying to you, that inflames the anger, and you give yourself permission to look beneath it, what may you discover?

What do you have to lose?

Maybe you fear that part of what they say may be true and the world will discover that your actually ARE unreliable, selfish or unsupportive? Maybe their behaviour signals to you that you actually ARE worthless, alone and abandoned? The possibility is frightening – and must be averted at all costs.

So here is the uncomfortable truth:

What makes you mad is not your partner. It is the meaning you give to what they do or say that leads you to becoming aggressive.

They may say to you: ‘I will be late for dinner.’ And you may hear: ‘I don’t care about you, my work is more important to me.’ This message means: ‘I am worthless.’ Now, chances are there are some childhood experiences lurking in the deeper recesses of your brain that established this thought in the first place. They get triggered by your partner’s comment and before you know it you run the risk of experiencing worthlessness. Ouch! That is a painful, deep existential feeling that no-one likes to feel. How much easier is it to get angry at your partner and have a go at them?!

You are not alone in your struggle – fighting is a dance of two injured people

Naturally, your partner has their own story attached to the comment. They may say: ‘I will be late for dinner.’ But mean: “I feel pressured by my boss to stay back. If I don’t do that, he will get angry with me and if that happens I feel helpless just as I did at the time when mom and dad separated because they were fighting all the time.’

Now, this is just a random example, but I hope you get the gist! So many of our interactions are based on the past hurts and pains, that we spend indeed most of our day trying to avoid feeling them again. Exhausting!! Stressful!! Crippling!!

What can you do?

You CAN learn to move beyond these patterns, become conscious, heal some of the past pain, become more present with your partner, and act from the present moment rather then being hijacked by the past all the time.

Once we have had conflict for long enough, we pre-empt it and become increasingly sensitive toward our partner’s every sentence. It becomes a matter of breaking this cycle and changing the constantly charged space you both operate in. One thing I prescribe to all my clients right from the start is to agree on daily side-by-side time. This means, take 15 minutes at least out of your EVERY DAY and talk about your experiences during the day. You are not allowed to blame or criticize your partner but rather talk about things that happened to you, how your experienced them, what you made out of it, how you dealt with it. During your time, your partner is only allowed to make supportive noises, ask curious neutral questions and, if the capacity is there, be supportive or empathic with you. Then you swap roles and the speaker becomes the listener. The idea here is to change the connection in your brain from partner = trouble to partner = connection. Difficult topics should only be discussed at a time when you both have the energy and feel save enough to tackle them. Once you have agreed on a time, you should put some basic rules in place about how you are allowed to talk. 

The exercise you can download below, offers you a good feedback system on how YOU are doing in relation to treating your partner well. It is a 30 day challenge to fundamentally change patterns of contempt, belittling, stonewalling, and some other ‘not-so-nice’ strategies we often apply to our partner. 

Go ahead and download it now and make a step toward re-inventing your relationship to what it was meant to be in the first place. You don’t even have to tell your partner. You can do this all alone and see how it changes your relationship. This exercise works on the premise that YOU want to be the best partner/person you can be rather than waiting for your partner to make a step before you agree to changing yourself.

However, if you are ready to delve deep into the art of healthy communication and work on healing the rift between you and your partner, you can book in for a free 45-minute check-in.