Arguing is not automatically bad for relationships. Conflict and disagreement are normal and inevitable. If a couple always agrees, you can guarantee that one of them is compromising in an unhealthy way. So, don’t fear that argument. It’s a chance to hear each other and practice healthy conflict resolution.
But, and you knew there would be a “but,” it’s not productive to have the same old argument over and over. This is a red flag. It’s a sign of disconnection and stagnancy. Therefore, it is crucial that you both recognize this trend. From there, you can take important steps to turns things around.
Why Do Couples Have the Same Old Argument?
Relationships are tricky. They can trigger all sorts of insecurity — especially during conflict. Your ego may kick in to defend itself. This is a surefire way to derail an argument. Instead of talking about fundamental issues, you end up squabbling over seemingly minor topics. With the ego on high alert, the atmosphere is usually unpleasant.
Our childhood shapes us in many ways. For example, we learn about attachment from our caretakers — usually our parents. If such people were confrontational with us and others, we may internalize this style. In adulthood, this can become our default setting. Fortunately, attachment styles can be changed.
There are instances when core differences make it impossible for you and your partner to truly connect. Do not jump to this conclusion until other measures have been exhausted.
4 Key Steps Toward Turning Things Around
1. Learn Your Triggers and Responses
You may not want to admit it but you play a role in this situation. Part of that is because you have some deeply engrained automatic reactions. Your partner does something that triggers you — often unknowingly. This activates the above-mentioned ego. The next step is a predetermined response. Until you recognize and address these triggers and reactions, your arguments will be like reading from the same script.
2. Stop Trying to “Win”
You are not competing with your partner. The goal isn’t to win or “crush” them. This isn’t a video game or softball game. The goal is healthy conflict resolution. Both of you must be centered on addressing the problem at hand without getting personal. To do that, move on to #3.
3. Identify the Underlying Issues
All those wars about the dishes or which TV show to watch are usually facades. It feels safer to rant and rave about who took out the garbage than about intense emotions. When arguments are on repeat, it can be a defense mechanism designed to avoid deeper issues.
The work to resolve this can begin alone. You may need solo time to identify what is really upsetting you. At some point, however, these underlying concerns must be openly discussed if you want to find peace and healing as a couple.
4. Learn How to Talk About Those Underlying Issues
How do you tell your partner what’s really on your mind? One of the most important relationship skills is healthy, direct communication. It’s an evolving skill that requires diligent attention. You might be most successful by working with a counselor.
When Old Patterns Are Hard to Break
Relationships can provoke volatile emotions. These feelings escalate during arguments and can implode during repetitive disputes. This is precisely why so many couples choose to attend couples therapy together. The presence of a skilled, unbiased mediator is a game-changer. Your sessions are where you can air out grievances and dig deep to better understand them.
I’ve worked with plenty of couples who feel stuck in an argument cycle. I’d love to help you break free of this rut. Let’s connect soon.