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Sheri & Bob Stritof

Same Old Fights

By July 20, 2011

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If your anger towards your spouse is getting both of you nowhere or making things worse in your marriage, consider reading Harriet Lerner's "Top 12 Anger Do's and Don'ts". She does tell you to take personal responsibility for your own anger, feelings, reactions, and needs and not for your spouse's anger or feelings.
In her recommended book The Dance of Anger, Lerner wrote: "We all recognize intellectually that repeating our ineffective efforts achieves nothing and can even make things worse. Yet, oddly enough, most of us continue to do more of the same, especially under stress ... Repeating the same old fights protects us from the anxieties we are bound to experience when we make a change. Ineffective fighting allows us to stop the clock when our efforts to achieve greater clarity become too threatening. Sometimes staying stuck is what we need to do until the time comes when we are confident that it is safe to get unstuck." (pg. 44)
Hara Marano: "Most of the things you and your spouse are fighting about today, you'll still be fighting about a decade from now. And that's no cause for alarm. Couples argue about the same issues 69 percent of the time, reports John Gottman, Ph.D., professor of family psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle. They don't resolve their problems, his long-term studies of more than 670 couples show, because many of them are actually insoluble. And should they change partners, they'll just get a different set of unresolved issues. "It's a myth that if you solve your problems you'll automatically be happy," says Gottman. "We need to teach couples that they'll never solve most of their problems."
Source: Hara Estroff Marano. "Another round, honey?" PsychologyToday.com. 9/01/1997.

When you reach a point of wanting to get unstuck and are tired of having the same old fights, do these two things first:

Comments
June 15, 2010 at 10:50 am
(1) KathyC says:

This post about fighting fair really caught me. I’d probably still be married if I’d read it back in the day! :)

Seriously, there is some great advice out there on how to disagree without breaking your marriage – and how to use disagreement to build a stronger marriage. Thanks for your post, which lays out a lot of info right here.

June 18, 2010 at 12:26 am
(2) Suzy says:

This is my 2nd marriage, and I have to say, I really did learn a valuable lesson during my first marriage. Do everything the complete opposite I did in my first marriage! Well, seriously, I mean when it comes to fighting… My late 1st husband and I didn’t even know how to fight fair, and I don’t even think we knew fair fighting existed! My present husband and I seem to fight fair, when we do fight, which believe it or not, is very few and far between.. Yes, we have our disagreements and our arguments.. But outright fights? It takes a lot for us to get into a fight! But when and if we do, we make sure to keep the other person’s feelings in mind the entire time we’re fighting – it’s only fair!!

December 28, 2012 at 9:46 pm
(3) Sergio Risicato says:

I BEEN married for the past thirty years, I was only 22yrs old when we got married. Twelve years ago she met this bloke which they had an affair until I caught them in the act. I never ever believed in Divorce, but she gave me her word that this wont happen again and I beleived her. We both kept a secrete for many years and she still sees this guy because his wife use to work with her. It tears my heart every time im in the same room with him, knowing what I know.I promised myself if my Marriage breaks down I would let his family know what was going on between him and my wife. My life has been torn apart when I see other couples hugging and kissing. When ive tried to mend things by saying I want a holiday for the both of us, she makes up an excuss to avoid going. I cant keep on pretending that im happy which Im not.
Sergio

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