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Underlying causes of fighting

Think of the last time you and your partner fought. It was an intense argument with raised voices and hurtful words. Were you fighting about money? Sex? Family/friends? These are common "reasons" couples give for fighting. These are surface reasons. Much like the surface of a lake, these reasons don't look anything like what's underneath. So what's underneath your fights? Take a deep breath. We are going into deep and sometimes uncomfortable waters.

When you fought with your partner about money, was it really about paper bills and metal coins? No. You were angry with your partner because you were afraid. Scared. Maybe even terrified.that you wouldn't have enough money to meet your responsibilities or perhaps even your basic needs. But anger is an easier emotion to express than fear. So we lash out to release it.

Then as the fight progressed, it wasn't even about money anymore. You were throwing every old issue you could think of; opening up old wounds and pouring salt in them. Now here might be a mild surprise. You weren't really fighting about those old issues either. You held certain expectations about your lover. Now we're even deeper in the water. Yours fears are bubbling up and you're thinking you have a right to have expectations about your partner. This is only true to a degree. You do not have the right to unrealistic expectations, such as perfection. As human beings, we make mistakes and are never going to be perfect. It's part of our nature. If you "expect" your partner to be perfect, you and the relationship are going to be miserable.

We are going deeper still. Think of your last fight, particularly about sex and/or time spent together. First there is fear. You are afraid that your partner doesn't find you attractive anymore. Then the expectations appear. Your partner is living up to whatever they are. Then as the water gets colder and darker, you see that you are fighting because you are selfish.

"I'm not a selfish person," you cry with righteous indignation. "I love my partner!"

Selfishness is frequently subconscious. Even altruistic people have times of selfishness, it's part of our survival instinct. But when selfishness becomes a day-to-day trait, our relationships suffer and frequently fail.

The most content and loving couples are those who put the needs of their partners first. They rarely fight and when they do, they are respectful disagreements. Unlike the one selfish/one selfless (who know co-dependency) and the two selfish (who know chaos); the other centered couple knows harmony.

The next time you feel a fight coming on, pause, breathe and ask your partner, "What do you need?" You will float up out of the cold and dark and just might like the results.