- Gender and Relationships
6 Signs of Unhealthy Fighting in Marriage
1. When one spouse fears the other
It is very hard to communicate in an atmosphere of fear. When you are the spouse who fears the other, you have to get to the source of that fear in order to reduce it, if possible. The fear may not even be because of the existence of physical danger but may be the fear of losing your partner’s affection, or of making that partner angry.
The presence of fear and intimidation is a sign of a serious imbalance in the marital relationship.
2. When one spouse becomes physically threatening
Whether it is actual or threatened physical abuse, it should not be tolerated in any relationship. If there is a reason for you to fear actual violence, you have to get help and remove yourself from the situation. And don’t return until your spouse has sought outside help.
If your spouse actually becomes violent and hits you, immediately take steps to protect yourself. If you feel that the situation is out of control, you have to call the police.
3. When one spouse destroys property
Some people think that venting their anger on objects in the house is a good way to express anger. This display of anger must be judged according to the type of behavior and its effect on the other spouse.
For example, when Paul gets very angry with his wife Amy, he sometimes tears apart whatever he is reading at the moment, like a magazine, a newspaper, or even a book. Amy does not feel intimidated or frightened because it is not exactly a violent act.
On the other hand, John breaks dishes when he gets really angry with his wife. Kate at first thinks that it is a harmless way of releasing his anger but when the display becomes frequent and Paul starts breaking expensive china, the behavior becomes a concern. Kate is not bothered by the loss of expensive stuff, but she is worried that Paul is losing control and it may escalate to a situation where he starts throwing objects at her.
A spouse who destroys property may get dangerously closer to physical intimidation. Property destruction is not a suitable way to argue or express anger. If the behavior continues, the partner who expresses anger this way must consider seeking professional help. If your spouse who displays this kind of behavior refuses to get help and you find that you are in a potentially dangerous situation, then you have to physically get away, for your own safety.
4. When one spouse becomes verbally or emotionally abusive
In an argument, the primary rule is to attack the issue, not the person. The goal is to find a resolution to the issue being disputed about, not to hurt, insult, or put the other down. And no one is to wield power over the other person.
Some couples may use humor in a non-threatening way to put their message across. But there are spouses who use sarcasms and insults to intimidate the other. Research shows that it takes twenty acts of kindness to undo the negative impact of one painful insult.
Physical abuse may be more dangerous than verbal or emotional abuse, but verbal abuse is also an act of violence. Research shows that verbal abuse is more difficult to stop because it leaves no mark and it is easier to deny.
If there is a pattern of verbal or emotional abuse in your marriage, seek help. Go to a counselor or a therapist who can deal with these issues professionally.
5. When spouses fight in front of children
Fighting or arguing must not be done in front of the children. But it is not easy to shield children from your fights, especially when the arguments happen suddenly. Children learn so much about marriage and relationships from observing their parents.
If you can have a healthy disagreement, the children may be given an opportunity to see how a constructive argument is handled. But when emotions run high, kids may become frightened, or they may feel that they are the cause of the fight. Kids can be hurt when parents fight in front of them and they hear what the parents say against each other.
6. When alcohol plays a role in your fights
Many times we hear a wife say that her husband is a good and kind man but when he is drunk, he becomes abusive. Alcohol is often present in many cases of spousal abuse. An otherwise calm argument may quickly explode because alcohol tends to exaggerate people’s emotions.
Arguing while drunk is so much like drunk driving. You have less control of what is going on, and you risk hurting yourself and your spouse in the process. When spouses are trying to work out their differences, it is counterproductive when alcohol is present in their arguments.