Why Men & Women Fight + How To Resolve It

Written by Shelly Bullard, MFT
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Fights are the demise of relationships. We'd all love to skip over this aspect of intimacy, but when it comes to romantic love, fighting is part of the deal. In fact, the deeper the connection you have with someone, the more vulnerable you are with them, and the more likely you're going to feel hurt from time to time.

So if we can't avoid fighting altogether, how do we do it in a way that results in the least amount of damage? That's what I'm going to talk about today.

John Gray, author of the classic book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, describes the typical predicament that men and women find themselves in when they fight. Women tend to assume the worst and blame; men become judgmental and dismiss or criticize her feelings. This isn't fun for anyone.

So how can we fight in a more productive way, so no one gets (too) hurt? Here are some suggestions of what you can do when things get heated with your love:

For women: 

1. Give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he doesn't know what you need. 

Ladies, sometimes he just doesn't get it. It's true! I don't say this to be demeaning; I say it because it's real.

Women will assume the worst and believe that a man's intentionally being hurtful, when actually he's just in the dark. A man who doesn't know what you need isn't the same thing as a man who doesn't care!

We expect men to be as emotionally attuned to us as we are to them, and this is a false expectation. We also expect them to be mind-readers, and they're not.

If your man screws up, it's likely because he doesn't know what you need from him, or he doesn't know how important something is to you.

2. Tell him what you need. 

You have to spell it out for him (in a nice way — a nasty tone won't get you what you're looking for). I know you don't want to, but if you don't, you risk his not understanding how to take care of you. Here are some things you can say:

"Honey, I feel really vulnerable right now and I was wondering if you could just hold me." 

"I feel scared right now, and it would feel really good to be near you." 

"I'm having a hard time, and I would like it if you would call to check in on me today." 

We forget that men want to take care of us; they just need to know how. If you calmly and kindly tell him what would feel good, it's likely he'll respond to your request.

For men: 

1. Don't devalue her feelings, and don't expect it not to happen again.

Look guys, she's going to hit emotional bottoms. When you criticize her emotions, they just get worse.

Don't try to rationalize with her. Don't try to talk her out of it. Definitely don't tell her that her feelings are wrong.

Instead, try to be as loving, kind, and supportive as possible, knowing that doing so will soothe her. This leads to the best-case scenario for both of you.

2. Remember that when negative emotions arise, she feels unloved. 

Fellas, I don't think you know how much power you have. You can heal your woman by simply conveying to her that you are here now, and you are willing to love her through whatever she's going through.

You can't imagine how far this will go with a woman! If, for a moment, you simply drop out of your mind and into your heart, it's likely she'll melt into comfort in your presence.

A tip for both people:

Don't initiate long, drawn-out conversations when emotions are running high. This doesn't work! The time to talk is when both of you have calmed down and are back to a loving state.

The bottom line is this: None of us likes fighting. We all just want to love and be loved. But fights are a natural, healthy aspect of relationships. We can't avoid them, so we have to learn to deal with them in a way that works for everyone involved.

The next time a fight starts to stir, ask yourself how you can be more understanding of your partner, so you can return to a good-feeling state as quickly as possible.

This takes practice! But that's the point of relationships anyway: to give us opportunities to learn how to be the most loving people we can be.

In the comments below, please share the techniques you use to resolve fights in your relationship. Thank you!

Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT, is a Marriage and Family Therapist, Love Coach and Spiritual Teacher. She's the...
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Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT, is a Marriage and Family Therapist, Love Coach...
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