Confessions About Fighting

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I’m sure every marriage is different in their fighting style. Sometimes I hear girlfriend’s talk about fights they have had with their husbands, and I think, “Holy cow, that can’t be healthy!” But I know that when they hear stories about some of mine and Chris’s fights, they probably think the same thing. We all fight differently, and for different reasons. But here are a few confessions about fights in my marriage:

1. Sometimes we go to bed angry. Actually, we USUALLY go to bed angry if we’ve had a fight close to bedtime. I’ve never really bought into the whole “never go to bed angry” thing. Chris and I are just the kind of people that need some time to process before we can forgive and move ahead. I’d rather go to bed angry one night, but wake up knowing my apology (or Chris’s) is sincere and well-thought out. So, sometimes we sleep on it after we’ve hashed it out. On rare occasions (maybe once or twice a year?), we sleep on it for a couple days before either of us feel ready to let it go and make up.

2. We never sleep in separate beds. Ever. It’s an unspoken rule in our marriage. We might be pissed to the high heavens, but we will both sleep in our bed. I can remember ONE TIME in our marriage when Chris slept on the couch, and another time when I dragged my pillow to the guest room (but I came back less than an hour later). We seem to both understand that when we fight, we are literally making our bed, and we are fully expected to lie in it and deal with it. No running away.

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3. Sometimes we pick fights when we are bored. Embarrassing? Yes. Immature? Absolutely. But, it’s the truth. When things are going kind of slow and life is just plugging along kind of boring-like, we start nitpicking with each other. I’d like to say it’s our way of spicing things up, but it’s more just a way to fill the time. Not that we are aware of that during the actual fight. During the fight, we are both mad and 100% committed to proving the other wrong. But looking back, most of our stupid arguments and fights are because we were just looking for something to do.

4. We fight more when we aren’t having enough sex. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

5. Both Chris and I have this terrible habit of getting mad at the other person when they get mad at us. It drives me nuts when Chris does it to me (which then makes our fight even bigger because now I’m pissed that he’s pissed), but I know I do it to him, too. One of us will have a legit concern or issue, and the other will act like we are accusing them of selling their soul to the devil. It is ridiculous. We are ridiculous.

6. On average, I’d say we have one good, solid argument a month and maybe two big fights a year. I think the difference between an argument and a fight is the issue’s impact on the marriage. So, maybe we argue one month about one of us not pulling our weight around the house. To me, that’s an argument because it isn’t a huge issue, but it is something we disagree on and needs to be addressed. But a fight would be something much more important to our marriage. A recurring fight we have almost every single year is the work/family balance for one or both of us. One of us might be spending too much time at work or prioritizing work above our home life for a while, and that will always become a much more important fight because it has a more significant impact on our marriage and family. We probably have one or two of those doozeys a year.

7. Sometimes we don’t apologize after an argument. Sad, but true. Usually, that only happens when we both know the argument was dumb and we were both wrong. And that’s usually because we argued because we were bored (see #3). Sometimes we fight it all out, get it all off our chest, and neither of us are sorry for doing that. Now, if we were mean to each other, that’s a different story and we will definitely apologize. But we are hardly ever outright mean during our fights. Usually, we stick to the issue and because of that, there sometimes is nothing to apologize for. I think one way; Chris thinks another. We agree to disagree, and that’s the end. When that happens, though, we always kiss and tell each other we love each other after the argument. After we’ve had time to let go of the anger, to think about what the other person said, and to calm ourselves down, one or both of us will quietly go to the other and we’ll kiss, then tell each other we love each other. Quite honestly, I like that better than an apology on some occasions. It just seems more real. Yes, we fought. No, I’m not sorry I think this. But, no matter what, I still love you and our life together.

8. We argue in front of our kids. Go ahead and judge, but it’s the truth. We will have arguments in front of our kids. Again, we are never mean to each other. But we will raise our voices a bit (not yelling, though) and sometimes that happens to be in front of our kids. We are definitely aware that they are there, and so it is always a modified argument. That hasn’t happened often, but it has happened before. Fighting, though, we keep behind closed doors.

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9. Chris and I think fighting is healthy. For us, it’s a way to purge things that are festering in our marriage. It’s a way to clear the air and wipe the slate clean. It also opens our eyes to issues that our partner is having. In the heat of an argument, I may not agree or even really hear what Chris is telling me. But after the fight is over, usually, I learn a lot about the state of our marriage and the concerns of my husband. And I may not have gotten to hear him speak so candidly had we not had a fight.

10. On average, our arguments last about 5 minutes and our fights last about 15 minutes. We hardly ever fight longer than that, no matter how big the argument is. Sure, there have been occasions over the years where it has been much bigger, but even our really big fights these days are short and to the point. I think they are short because Chris and I fight clean with each other. We very, very seldom make it personal, and we try to avoid statements like, “You ALWAYS…” or “You NEVER…” Speaking in absolutes is a slippery slope and can take a small little issue and make it much more significant than it needs to be. I think we’ve both learned that over the years, and so we leave those kinds of statements and accusations our of our tiffs, which means we fight for shorter periods of time because we are only talking about the issue on the table.

When I lump all of this together, it sounds like Chris and I fight all the time. We really don’t. Especially now. We definitely fought more at the beginning of our marriage, and I think that’s normal (?). We were trying to find our balance and our routine in our new married life, and that comes with more bumps. After eight years of marriage, though, we have worked through most of those “housekeeping” arguments and fights. Now, we very seldom really fight it out (see #6).

No matter how often it happens, we all fight differently. And I think that’s probably good. But don’t leave me hanging here with my marital dysfunction blowing around the internet all by my lonesome. What are some characteristics of disagreements with your spouse?

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22 thoughts on “Confessions About Fighting

  1. Oh my goodness, I absolutely pick fights with my husband when I’m bored! I find that I get seriously jealous of him havin something to fill his time. After having our first kid, I get jealous when he can just throw together a night out with his friends; for me it takes weeks and weeks of planning. Thankfully I’m starting to realize my own boredom and that has helped in preventing pointless fights.

  2. beth

    #4. yes. same here. We get along much better when we don’t let life’s stresses interfere with “our” time

  3. Amanda

    Amen to #4. That is us exactly!

  4. I’ve made it a rule that we can’t use “always” and “never” in our fighting, too. I think it really helps things stay more “true.”

  5. Tammy

    I don’t understand why people always say that we shouldn’t go to bed angry. When my hubby and I “argue”, which isn’t very often, we usually go to bed angry. I agree with you, Katie – it works. When we wake up the next morning, sometimes we’ve forgotten what we were arguing about, or at least it doesn’t seem such a big deal. A hug or kiss on the way out the door in the morning after an argument can speak volumes! It’s worked for us – 25 years and we couldn’t be happier.

  6. #4: we call that “disconnected.” We go to work, come home, play with the kiddo and do the whole night routine, go to bed, repeat. After too long we are getting a little rude and curt and after a good romp we are back to normal!

  7. We definitely are guilty of doing the, “You always” and ” You never” thing….. I might just send this to him and say, “See! You always say always”….or maybe I won’t. My hubs is more confrontational than I am so if I don’t think he’s fighting fair, I give the silent treatment. In fact at our wedding reception we answered the question, “if your significant other was an animal what would he/she be?” He answered that I would be a “turtle” because I retreat into my shell. Sometimes, we like to poke fun at each other and have silly arguments. Actually, last night we had a pillow/wrassling fight just because I was mad at school and restless….it was pretty silly. We definitely let life stress effect us but I feel like we’re getting much better at that. There will always be life stress so we must enjoy our time together. P.S. We don’t have sex when we’re stressed…maybe we should…

  8. I think #4 is just a fact in most marriages, mine definitely included. But normally if we’re not getting enough in that area, something else is going on that is really the culprit.

    Most of our fighting started after having our baby. It was just such a huge adjustment and we stopped communicating. It’s something we still work on to this day but it’s better.

    One thing I’ve learned is to be open and honest about what I expect and what I need. I was getting pissed about things I expected him to do but he had no freaking clue (men..psh). So I laid it all out for him and that way he understands where I’m coming from and (as bad as it sounds) he’s held accountable for what he agrees to. This goes both ways. That has helped us avoid those bs fights a lot more. But sometimes, damn it feels good to yell.

    Thanks for keeping it real πŸ™‚

  9. Suzanne

    We don’t have kids yet so I’m not sure if we’ll argue in front of them but I agree with everything else you said. We have very similar patterns in our arguments and fights. We’ve gotten much better as the years go by about letting little things go and just joking around more when things are stressing us out. Marriage is hard to figure out and fights are no fun but afterwards when things are hashed out, it feels oh so good!

  10. Crystal

    I think that infrequent fighting/arguments in front of children is good for them. They learn how arguments are resolved in a healthy way!

  11. I think it’s incredibly healthy for kids to see parents who love each other and respect each other fight with each other. Because, honestly, otherwise they’ll grow up, get married, have their first fight… Or five… And it will absolutely devastate them. Kids need to see their parents fight and they need to see their parents kiss and make up.

  12. I always appreciate your honesty in regards to your marriage! and our last argument…about #4! It’s got to be super normal.

  13. Wow, totally on board with all of this; especially #4! #2 made me laugh because we have this really nice expensive king size bed and would never expect the other to miss a good nights sleep, even if we were fighting (just too cruel). He’d have to have been kicked out of the house for me to kick him out of his own bed, and I’m assuming vice versa! Thanks for your honesty Katie!!

  14. Hilary

    I think my husband and I fight more when we are stressed at life in general and less so at each other. I also agree that most of our fighting was done when we first got married. I remember thinking that all we did was fight. Now, we are eight years (going on nine) into our marriage and we rarely argue. Mostly because we’ve learned how NOT to communicate and because our lives and schedules are so similar (we are both teachers in the same school). I also think that because our kids are older – 5 and 3 – there is less stress as well. No more crying babies, or 4 am feedings. It’s amazing what sleeping children can do for a marriage!

  15. I saw my parents fight when I was a kid, and it didn’t scar me or anything. I think it taught me a lot to see a clean fight and then to see them kiss and make up. And fighting is healthy! I know that fights usually come up when we’re lacking communication, and issues have been festering. We can air them out and we feel loads better.

  16. Crystal

    I definitely think infrequent arguing in front of your kids is okay. My husband says he never has seen his parents argue about anything and he thinks fighting is the absolute worst thing in a relationship. He can’t deal with it. This causes our arguments to seem so much worse than they actually are.
    Thanks for this article Katie.

  17. I agree with so many of these! My husband I sleep on an argument too – I admit I’m stubborn and I need some time to cool down most of the time before I’m ready to move on. I’m a big nitpicker too, and when I’m bored with life I tend to be worse. We don’t have kids yet but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the occasional argument in front of the kids as long as it’s clean. That’s part of life and the kids need to learn it! Great post!

  18. Ruth

    Wow I can never talk about arguments so calm hihi I am glad to hear that we are not the only ones that go to bed angry or fight in front of the kids (probably I should keep my voice lower but is soo hard!!)

  19. Beanie, Gracie & Tillman's Nana

    For whatever it’s worth, I think its healthy for parents to argue in front of their children, as long as they stay on point and keep it civil. That’s how children learn to resolve their own issues, by watching grown-ups. Never been a fan of letting my children think we never had a cross word or difference of opinion.

  20. Amen to #4. I especially get cranky when that is going on and Rob likes to make fun of me for it! I think arguing is healthy as well as long as you attempt to fight fair. And #5 is totally true for us…we both get defensive when the other person is mad with us…and then the person who was mad initially gets even more upset! Vicious cycle.

  21. Lindsay

    Definitely agree with all of the above! πŸ™‚

  22. Avantika

    I love your blog!! Just came across it and I couldn’t be less surprised by how similar your situations are to mine! Love your honest and clean writing style..<3 πŸ™‚

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