Sometimes you have those days where nobody can do anything right. No matter what someone is saying, you will read something negative in it. Or your partner might become very unreasonable all of a sudden, without any reason that you can see.
Anything nice you say at that moment will be seen as condescending. If your partner refuses to cooperate in the fight when you are in this type of mood you get even angrier. Logic or reason do not matter much anymore.
Most women have at least some experience with this with PMS. For men it is very common to have a problem they feel helpless about with their boss or a co-worker and take that feeling home with them. This is one example that can lead to this type of fight. Although some men might want to see this as a purely female issue, they are just as prone to this as women are.
This very emotional type of fight can even lead to dragging up older fights and older issues. I don’t have to tell you that this is never a good idea.
Of course, sometimes there can be good reasons to pick a fight. If you kept quiet on a certain issue for a long time and now everything comes out, or if you have mentioned things several times and it stays without acknowledgment, in those situations there is actually a good reason for the fight.
However, in this article I want to focus mainly on fights without reason.
Why are we picking a fight without reason?
After one such episode between my husband and me, I realized why sometimes people are really just looking for a fight.
When we feel down on ourselves, or when something negative has happened to us, sometimes we have the need for the outside world to reflect our inside world. If our partner at that moment is being sweet, nice and loving, that feels very incongruent to us.
At that moment, unconsciously, we want to make this outside world less pretty and less loving to match with our inside world. That is when we pick a fight, become unreasonable and seem to take everything the wrong way.
For most of us this is a process that happens unconsciously and within seconds. Often our partner cannot see this coming. This means that they usually react from their emotions as well, and that gives us exactly what we want: a fight and an outside world that reflects what we feel inside. You are no longer the only one who feels bad; your partner now feels the same.
Even when it is hormones that cause this inner turmoil, it still creates incongruity if the outside world is calm and peaceful.
How to stop from picking a fight?
It can be very difficult to stop and think in the moment why you are picking a fight. The more you try to, the easier and faster it becomes.. Soon you’ll notice not 10 minutes into the fight, but after the first minute. And a bit later you will start to notice before you say the first sentence.
If you feel yourself picking a fight, take a few deep breaths. Think about why you are really angry or why you feel bad about yourself.
Good questions to ask yourself:
“Is this really why I am angry?”
“Would I normally be mad about this?”
“What is it that I really mean and want here?”
Working on the source of that bad feeling or anger is always more effective than trying to take it out on your partner.
When you are already fighting and notice that you are just doing it because you feel bad about yourself, stop fighting right away. Tell your partner you are sorry and explain to them the reason why you feel bad about yourself.
You are the person who knows yourself best. Do what you need to feel better about yourself. Journaling, talking to your partner about it, taking some time for yourself, going out for a run, meditating, reading a book or watching a favorite movie, etc.
Don’t forget to make it up to your partner that you used them as a punching bag!
How to deal with your partner when they are picking a fight?
Knowing that the person you love is experiencing strong inner turmoil and feels bad about himself can help you to react with more compassion towards him.
What is very important is that if you notice your partner picking a fight, to not engage with him in this fight. How you do this depends a lot on what you know your partner needs. If he just needs someone to rage at, ask him about other problems. Get him to talk about the real issue. If you know that he just feels insecure at that moment, give him love and hugs.
Some people prefer to work things out alone. My husband is like that, for example. If I would try to hug him and give him love in such a situation, he would reject that. If I would try to get him to talk about the real issue he will refuse to see there is another issue.
What helps for us is when I tell him in a calm voice “I don’t know what the real problem is, and that is okay. I refuse, however, to be part of this fight. Please let me know when you are calm again and we’ll talk about it”. And at that moment I’ll leave the room, go read a book or do something else. But I leave him alone. I don’t ignore him and if he has something to say to me–I’ll answer of course–but I will refuse to be part of the fight.
You know your partner best and you know what works best. If you don’t know yet, that’s okay. Just try several approaches and see which one works best.
When the mood passes and your partner is back to his normal self again, forgive him. If he tells you that he is sorry, tell him that you forgive him. If he doesn’t say anything, let him be, but forgive him in your mind anyway.
Remember that your partner is only human as well.
A permanent solution
If both partners follow this advice (on how to stop picking a fight and on how to deal with your partner when he is picking a fight), you will soon notice that these type of fights happen less and less. The more you are aware of yourself and your reasons, the sooner you can change them. The same goes for your partner.
If your partner is not willing or capable to do anything about this, you can still notice a huge improvement in just doing your own part. It is very difficult, if not straight out impossible to pick a fight with someone who refuses to cooperate.
It is a good idea to have a talk with your partner about what you prefer to do in these situations. Do you just need a hug and kiss? Do you want to be listened to you while you rant about what is going on? Do you want to be left alone until you have figured it out? Something else?
Having this talk is best when you are not in a bad mood and not picking a fight. If right after picking a fight you tell your partner (without a previous conversation) that you want a hug, chances are they’ll tell you to go hug yourself!
Having had this conversation before when both parties are calm and loving, your partner will remember and be more likely to give you what you need.
Try having this conversation with your partner today. What do you need when you feel bad about yourself and what does he need when he feels that way?
* For him you can read her and the other way around.