What Does “Fighting” Really Mean?

When you hear “we had a fight,” what comes to mind? How about an image of two red-faced people with fists clenched and angry expressions? Does “fighting” bring to mind the image of physical violence? What about an image of two toddlers trying to play with the same toy and then crying over it? Yes, these are examples of fighting…Would you ever think an image of people in disagreement over a decision and trying to prove their own points, or two people getting angry over how the dishwasher is loaded or the toothpaste tube is squeezed? Are the former examples fighting or arguments?

Many times I have had clients report their “worst fight ever,” and then proceed to describe an example of an argument. I sit there listening trying to notice unhealthy behaviors or interactions (i.e. hitting, name calling, manipulation, etc) that warrant on going for therapy to improve communication and managing feelings. When the story is over and these red flags are never mentioned, I ask the client, “How is this the worst fight ever?” More times than not, the response is…

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Originally posted on Marriage.com