Same Argument, Different Day: Fighting Your Impulse to Fight

Are you sick and tired of fighting with your partner — but you can’t seem to stop? What if I were to tell you, as an experienced counselor, that you actually enjoy it? You know you shouldn’t, but you can’t seem to help yourself. Somewhere in your unconscious mind, the arguing makes sense to you. Perhaps you had parents who bickered or made constant digs at each other? The only way you feel alive in your relationship is to emulate the hills and valleys. You crave the making up/ breaking up cycles.

There is a “high” involved in fighting. That feeling comes from your cortisol levels which are responsible for the fight or flight response. It can feel good to be the “superior” one looking down on the “inferior” one. You are addicted to feeling above or below another person. This is the sensation that makes you truly feel alive. For example, imagine your partner walks in the door and immediately accuses you of forgetting to pay the rent without even asking. Your first instinct is bite back. After all, that’s the cycle you’re in. But the reasonable reaction would be to take a deep breath and discuss it as adults. Unfortunately, ordinary relating feels foreign to you. Posturing for power is all that you know.


If this article is really hitting home for you, don’t beat yourself up. Getting down on yourself would only be repeating the same dynamic you are trying to change. There are several exercises you can use to fight your impulse to fight. These steps may sound simple, but will require a lot of practice.

1.Count to Ten. Try counting to ten — slowly — when you feel an argument is starting. Take some deep breaths. This will help create space for yourself.

2.Think before speaking. Once you have created space for yourself, think before acting or speaking. Leave the room if you need to. Let your partner know when you will be back to continue the discussion.

3.Imagine a different outcome. Ask yourself what it would feel like if you were talking to each other with mutual respect and admiration? Would that feel good, strange, awkward? Role play in your head.

4.Be honest with yourself. Don’t try to talk yourself out of your thoughts and feelings. Self awareness must come first. Only then can you have change and peace of mind.

Written by Lisa Schlesinger

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