Please, help. We can't stop fighting.
Updated: Sep 15
Couples who fight often show up to therapy full of despair. There can be a sense of "being stuck" accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, frustration, and anger. Partners often can't see a way out of the struggle. I work with people who know they are hurting each other, want to stop, but honestly don't know how to do things differently. In many cases, partners have been functioning this way for years before they get to couples counseling. The hurt and the damage each person has inflicted on the other can be significant.
Fighting serves a purpose. You can begin to interrupt the fighting cycle right now by simply reflecting on how fighting with your partner serves you. I'm not saying that you want to be fighting with your partner or that you enjoy it. What I am saying is that on a deeper level, the fighting provides you with something useful. Fighting can be protective. It can be a very effective tool for distracting you from something even more difficult, more painful, than the fighting itself.
Fighting is a learned response that can be unlearned. In my experience, fighting couples are often disembodied during their fights. They are anticipating a fight and are conditioned to go from 0 to 100 in an instant. "I don't know how we got here," is something I hear frequently from high-conflict couples. Repeatedly, I've witnessed how the simple practice of slowing down during therapy sessions leads to meaningful insight.
Fighting is a radical opportunity for personal growth. When partners fight, each one is usually putting all of their attention on the other. Partners can be exquisitely well-versed in what the other is doing wrong or not doing at all. The personal growth comes when partners are open to the idea that the real distress isn't coming from their partner or any other external source.
As a relationship coach in the Denver Metro Area, I support couples to stop fighting and to start relating in new ways that create safety and security for each person. My approach is not cookie-cutter. I am bringing in a variety of modalities and interventions that are customized to your relationship and what is happening during the session. Here are some of the ways that I work with couples who are caught in patterns of endless fighting:
Practicing a structured approach for communicating with your partner without fighting
Learning tools to communicate your personal experience honestly
Developing the ability to be radically curious about your partner
Bringing awareness to your present moment experience, including body sensations, emotions, and thoughts
Noticing, interpreting, and understanding your partner's body posture, facial expressions, gestures, and movements
Understanding how the relationship is presenting you with an opportunity for personal growth
Taking responsibility for your behavior and your choices as an adult
Recognizing old ways of being that are no longer serving you
Identifying new ways of being that want to emerge
Healing underlying trauma through the release of old energy
Getting clear on your individual wants, needs, boundaries, and values
About the Author
Diana Calvo is a Denver couples therapist. She provides professional support to couples in all stages of relationship and has experience working with the many difficult issues couples are faced with. Diana offers premarital counseling, couples therapy, discernment counseling, and divorce counseling services to Boulder, CO and Denver, CO. All gender identities, sexual orientations, and relationship styles are welcome.