How Fighting Can Bring You Closer: 3 Lessons to Learn from Common Fights

Do you want a relationship filled with warmth and affection? The price is being real. Does profound partnership appeal to you? Then learn to express your deepest truths. Interested in intimacy? Then intend to be satisfied. In short, do you want a great relationship as best friends and lovers? Then be prepared for great fights.

Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to fight—or don’t fight enough, or at all! They tend to teach conflict resolution rather than conflict completion. Contrary to conventional wisdom, conflict can be a couple’s secret weapon for coming closer, not a sign they’re coming apart—at least when couples know why they fight, how to fight, and what to fight for. Here are 3 fights and lessons you can use to get closer to your significant other.

[4 Reasons Why Relationships on Autopilot Will Crash Every Time]

1. The Hidden Middle Finger

Heart of the Fight Judith Wright Bob WrightYou walk away, seething, silent, and resentful—now is time for the silent treatment. “That ought to show him” is the message you’re sending, but it rarely gets through. Nothing is resolved, and the relationship never deepens. Relationship fights can be deadly quiet; you can say, “screw you,” without raising your voice or even saying a word. In fact, Hidden Middle Finger fights often involve silence. You can simply pretend the disagreement isn’t there. In fact, other exchanges can seem placid and even friendly on the surface. Beneath it, however, passive-aggressive behavior is eroding the relationship. Getting the discussion to the point where actual upset and anger is expressed and the hidden middle finger is out in the open is critical. Some couples simply don’t have much social-emotional intelligence. By developing their ability to express their feelings beyond their middle finger and interact more truthfully with each other, they grow in understanding, intimacy, and satisfaction.

2. I Can’t Stand the Way You . . .

“I can’t stand your constant harping.” “Why do you have to treat the waitress that way?” “We’re not in the backwoods here; smacking your lips like that is so rude.” All of a sudden you can’t stand the way your partner chews, walks, eats, or talks. Simple everyday habits bug you or even make your skin crawl. Things that were endearing in the past start grating on your nerves: “If he does that one more time, I’ll scream” or “Every time she uses that tone of voice, it’s like fingernails on a blackboard.” Almost anything can become irritating or begin to annoy or aggravate you. Look beneath these “you bug me” type fights, and you’ll start to find a lot of unexpressed upsets that have been swept under the carpet—and now you’re tripping on it. A loud laugh, the sound of cracking knuckles, a certain facial expression, or a once-endearing nervous tic is now sending you through the roof. Something is bugging you, but it’s not what you think. You need to recognize the deeper issues so you can move the relationship forward.

[Read Maria Shriver’s latest ‘I’ve Been Thinking’]

  1. You Love ______ More than Me

“You love your iPhone/sports/shopping/Facebook/work/the kids . . . more than me” is the theme of these battles. It may come out as a direct accusation or indirectly as a nagging or punitive attack, “Put down your stupid iPhone, for God’s sake;” a simpering lament, “You spend more time golfing than you do with me;” a demand, “Stop avoiding me;” or a continual complaint of “You’re never around when I need you.” But no matter how it emerges, it is often a payback or punishment directed against the one who “loves something more.” And rather than driving the couple to more closeness, these responses tend to drive couples farther apart. These You Love ________________More than Me fights have the right idea but the wrong expression. It’s healthy for couples to argue about why one is avoiding the other, either physically or emotionally. Whether the avoidance or absences are from indulging in soft addictions like overshopping or binge television-watching, avoiding each other because of discomfort with intimacy, staying away for fear of conflict, or trying to numb some upset rather than face it, getting to the bottom of this fight can provide fodder for deeply satisfying lives and deeper, more intimate relationships.

Want to know what will likely trip you up or help you out in your relationship? Go to to take a relationships quiz and discover your relationship style. You can also get a complimentary chapter of The Heart of the Fight.


© 2016 Judith Wright EdD and Bob Wright EdD, authors of The Heart of the Fight

{Image credit: Pixabay}

About the Author

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Judith Wright, EdD, co-author of The Heart of the Fight, is a world-renowned couples and lifestyles coach, speaker, consultant, professor, and best-selling author. She has appeared on 20/20, Oprah, Good Morning America, and Today. Follow Judith on Facebook and Twitter. Bob Wright, EdD, co-author of The Heart of the Fight, is an internationally recognized visionary, speaker, educator, consultant, professor, and best-selling author. He is recognized as a top coach by Crain’s Business. Follow Bob on Facebook and Twitter. The Wrights founded the dynamic and innovative couples program at the Wright Foundation and the Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential. For more information please visit

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