Conflicted Couples: “I’m a Dirty Fighter”
I am the dirty fighter in our marriage. Carole grew up with the idea that to go to bed angry was about as sinful as it gets, whereas I figured that going to sleep in the midst of shared madness was one way to solve it – pretend it never happened. Carole would then wake me up to talk it through and I would be more peeved than the hours before, but eventually she would lead me through it.
By the way, the problem we were gnarling about was never the problem. More often it had to do with who was going to control this relationship we were living. Like on the dance floor, Carole loves to lead and the problem with that is that I like to lead as well. We often lead in different directions, we usually have different rhythms and we both think we are right most of the time. And sometimes we are both right, and right at the same time.
I have learned from Carole over these 39 years. I am less of a dirty fighter now. And I have discovered that there are lots of reasons to “not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26) — here are some.
1. Fighting wrecks intimacy. Not much chance for closeness, no spooning, no whatever… and forget about love-making.
2. Un-conciliated conflict disturbs your dreaming and your resting. You wake up often more tired than when you closed your eyes. Rather than 8 hours of rest you get 8 hours of wrestlessness (I know how to spell restlessness).
3. You reduce your next day resiliency. Last night’s conflict becomes tomorrow’s frustration and bitterness. Watch your angst and how on-edge you are with others.
4. Nourishing your wrath takes huge withdrawals from your emotional bank account, that accumulation of goodness and freshness that you should be adding to your marital friendship.
5. You become habituated to thinking you are “right” while being aggressively resistant to your partner. It becomes your new norm. It’s called being “passive aggressive” in psych circles.
I seem to have lots of “high conflict couples” these days in my practice. Maybe you are one of them. So I am going to create a few blogs written for you. I hope that these “Comments from the Couch” give you occasion to think, laugh, maybe get confused and perhaps make some different decisions.
Thanks for reading.