While it is normal for couples to argue occasionally, constant conflict erodes relationships. Fights over small issues frequently escalate into more serious disagreements, leaving little room in the relationship for affection and romance. By examining why the arguments erupt and exploring more productive ways of communicating, you can channel your interactions in a more positive direction and recapture some of the attraction that caused you to first fall in love.
Talk to your girlfriend about the problem when you're not in the midst of an argument. Let her know how you feel.
Listen with an open mind. Determine what the underlying issues are. Sometimes an argument about leaving dirty socks on the floor is really about your girlfriend feeling that you no longer care about pleasing her.
Remember, it takes two to create an argument. Don't rise to the challenge every time you feel provoked. If the reason for the fight is something trivial, consider just letting it go.
Take an honest look at how the fights start. Perhaps you're doing something to trigger the arguments. Determine whether you're subconsciously doing things you know will irritate her.
Try to detect whether there's a pattern or common thread to these fights. Jealousy over flirtatious behavior or inconsiderate acts might be the cause. Maybe there's a way to change your behavior that will reduce the source of the conflict.
Diffuse the situation. Stop, take a breath and relax. If it's possible to interject some humor, do so, but be careful not to be dismissive or demeaning.
Don't hesitate to say you made a mistake and are sorry. An apology can go a long way toward healing hurt feelings. Your girlfriend could be harboring resentment about something you did days or weeks ago that has not yet been resolved.
Realize that there are gender differences that are reflected in the way couples communicate. You and your girlfriend might be jumping to erroneous conclusions about what you think the other means. Stop in the middle of the argument to ask clarifying questions.
Reflect on what is going on in your girlfriend's life. Perhaps she's having difficulties with her parents, school or work. Although it's not acceptable for her to argue with you as an outlet for her frustrations, demonstrating your understanding of her stress can help. Consider getting away for a short vacation, if possible, to give the two of you the opportunity to refocus and reconnect.
Observe your girlfriend's interactions with others. If she's getting into petty arguments with her friends, siblings or parents, she might have an argumentative, antagonistic personality.
Evaluate the relationship as a whole. Decide whether the good outweighs the bad and whether it's worthwhile to invest in the future of the relationship. Perhaps the constant fighting is sapping your energy and you can no longer contribute in a positive way. This could be a sign that it's time to end the relationship.
- Cosmopolitan: Fifteen Ways to Diffuse an Argument
- Professor's House: Petty Arguments in Marriage
- American Psychological Association: Controlling Anger Before It Controls You
- Psychotherapy Network: Are You There for Me? Understanding the Foundations of Couples Conflict
- Psychology Today: Dispensing with the Trivial
- Oprah: Ten Things Wives Will Never Understand About Their Husbands
- If you continue to fight all the time, despite everything you've tried, consider seeking professional help. Couples counseling can be effective if you both care about each other and want to preserve the relationship.
Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.