Q:  My wife is my best friend, but interestingly enough we fight a lot.  It seems we are either getting along great or we are bickering about one thing or another. I don’t understand why we fight or even how it starts, but we both want to argue less.  What do you suggest?

A:  The good news is that you are both interested in making a change to improve your relationship.  It sounds like you are also moving in the right direction in exploring why and how you fight.

The following questions are designed to assist you in exploring your fight patterns.  I suggest you and you wife answer these questions separately; then share your answers with each other.

Two key points:

  1.  Gaining understanding – problem resolution – is an integral part of a healthy marriage.  The goal is to handle conflicts in a positive way, not to eliminate disagreements; and
  2. When you and your wife share your answers to the following questions, try to keep the mood one of exploring and clarifying your fight patterns.  Based on the information you gather, you can each choose one area of change you want to focus on first.  Change takes place over time, so be patient with each other.

The reasons I fight are (check three):

a.  To get my spouse’s attention and so he/she will listen to me

b.  The pressure builds up from unresolved issues

c.  We cannot agree

d.  I want something very much

e.  I have a quick temper

f.  My spouse starts it

g.  To clear the air

h.  Making up is so nice

i.  Other

The worst thing about our fights is:

a.  Never finishing them

b.  Not resolving any issue

c.  Name-calling

d.  We both find it hard to apologize

e.  Bring up past problems

f.  They last too long

g.  They are too frequent

h.  I never feel like I win

i.  Other

When a fight is about to start, I would like to   (describe in detail)

What do you dislike most about yourself or the way you feel when fighting?

What do you dislike most about your spouse when you are fighting?

What are some of the good things your fighting has accomplished?