How to Stop Constantly Fighting Using the Gottman Method
Arguing once a month or even once a week is normal for most US couples. Frequent arguments might make you feel uncomfortable and worried about your relationship. If you’re constantly fighting with your partner, the Gottman Method can help.
The Gottman Method is a type of couples therapy developed by Dr. John Gottman. Dr. Gottman spent over 50 years studying 1000’s of couples to determine how to improve marriages.
If you’d like to learn how to stop constantly fighting, check out Dr. Gottman’s tips below.
Accept That You Won’t Stop Arguments Forever
Part of Dr. Gottman’s teachings is that arguing is a normal part of a marriage. Sometimes these are small fights, and sometimes they are much bigger. Although constantly arguing can feel bad, arguing is healthy because it means you are communicating your anger.
Dr. Gottman suggests that the argument itself is not as important as the meaning the couple place on it. If both partners walk away thinking it was a simple fight that they’ll get over soon, then that’s healthy. However, if one or both walk away feeling as though they have been attacked, belittled, or undermined, this is where problems begin.
Think About the Four Horsemen
If you fight all the time, you and your spouse should avoid what Gottman describes as the Four Horsemen of arguments. These are:
These are the elements of an argument that Gottman suggests are the most harmful when they slip into a battle. whether purposely or accidentally, you and your spouse can become overwhelmed.
Consider How the Conflict Begins
The Gottman Method suggests ‘softening your start-up’ when you enter into a confrontation with your partner. The initial stages of a conflict are important in determining how the fight will end.
The Gottman Method provides a four-step plan to initiate a ‘gentle start-up.’ Using this method ensures you have an argument that is direct and prevents anyone from getting hurt.
Use the Phrase ‘I Feel’
Using ‘I feel’ to begin an argument ensures you aren’t allowing blame to enter the conversation. While you may feel like blaming your partner, acknowledging your feelings stops any defensiveness arising. The argument will feel much easier and more open.
Describe What Your Feelings Are About and Why
The key idea at this stage is to describe your feelings without judgment. You’ll communicate these directly and avoid telling your partner how they should feel. You’ll avoid an emotionally charged situation and keeps things factual.
Make sure you tell your spouse what you appreciate about them or that you understand why a particular issue has occurred. When you’re angry, you probably won’t feel much like appreciating your spouse. However, it can go a long way in having a healthy argument that ends with compromise and balance.
Make Your Request
Finally, tell your spouse what it is that you need from them. Do this in such a way that it does not feel like an unreasonable request.
For example, if you need more attention from them but they are always working, request a weekly date night that works for the two of you. Ask them to stick to the agreed time and put down work for that night.
Structuring your argument using these four steps can make even the most explosive shouting battle productive. You can both get something out of the argument and come away from it, having avoided any of the four horsemen.
Taking responsibility for your part in an argument is Gottman’s antidote to defensiveness. When you take responsibility for your actions, you let your partner know you are not trying to blame them.
It takes strength and courage to take responsibility during an argument. It may take practice, but it is worth it to promote a healthier relationship.
If you’ve had a horrible fight, go to your partner and admit your share of the responsibility. It takes more than one person to argue. No harm can come from acknowledging that you may have said something you didn’t mean.
Repair Emotional Damage
Anything that stops negativity from going further counts as an attempt to stop emotional damage. This could be in the form of using the ‘I feel’ statement above, humor, or physical affection.
If emotional damage has already been done, you can get ahead of it. One way to do so is to strive for compromise in an argument. This means neither you nor your spouse will walk away feeling like they have lost a battle.
An apology can also go a long way in repairing the damage. When you’re emotionally charged, apologizing might seem like you’re giving in. However, you can simply offer acknowledgment that you have played a part in the conflict and request an apology from your partner for the same reason.
Focus on Friendship
Focusing on the friendship that formed your relationship will help you stop arguments from happening frequently. It will also mean you have better, more communicative arguments when you do fight.
Friendship is what Gottman considers the most important part of maintaining a happy marriage. If you always remember that your partner is your friend, you’ll understand that your arguments are natural and don’t signify the end of your relationship.
Gottman focuses on cultivating friendship above all else in a relationship. To do this, he suggests enhancing love maps, nurturing fondness, and turning towards one another as opposed to away. A Gottman Method therapist is the ideal person to help you both solidify these parts of your relationship.
How to Stop Constantly Fighting Once and For All
When you’re arguing a lot, you and your spouse may feel very conflicted about the nature of your relationship. You’ll feel desperate to know how to stop constantly fighting. Rest assured that marital conflict is natural and that there are methods to improve your arguments.
By using these Gottman techniques, you will have meaningful arguments, even if they’re intense. This will lead to a better relationship and a deeper friendship for you both.
Additional reading to support your relationship as you explore options for couples therapy and healing:
What Causes Resentment In A Marriage (Plus How You Can Heal Resentment In Yours)
How Contempt In Your Relationship Is Driving A Deep Wedge Between You
How Long Is Too Long Without Sex In A Relationship?
How Often Do Couples Fight And Should You Be Concerned?
Stuck In A One-Sided Relationship? Here’s How To Talk About It So Resentment Doesn’t Take Over