Do you ever feel like you just keep having the same argument, discussion or conflict over and over again?
Perhaps it comes up every week, every month, or every year. It might just be something small and seemingly insignificant, or it might be something larger that has been creeping up for years or decades.
Why does that happen?
Conflict must be resolved
Ultimately, it keeps coming up because the conflict hasn’t been resolved yet. There are two major reasons why conflicts remain unresolved.
The first, and obvious, reason is that whatever the conflict, it is still actively there. For example, if you constantly argue about the socks being left on the floor… well, chances are it’s because you, or your spouse, are still leaving their socks on the floor. Now, there are two simple ways to deal with this:
- Stop leaving the socks on the floor.
- Understand the reason why the socks are being left on the floor.
Now, socks might be a good example for option 2. I mean, is there ever a really good reason for leaving socks on the floor? But maybe it’s an argument about how your spouse disappears for a bit when they come home from work. Maybe reason 2 is that they need time to decompress. That’s not unreasonable so long as they re-appear after decompressing for a short time.
But, it can be harder to allow, because it means being able to see the conflict from your spouse’s point of view. Frankly, that’s difficult for most people. We’re not so good at actively trying to understand other people. We like to try and understand how to manipulate others, but not how to understand them to know and accept them.
But let’s say the conflict is no longer active. For example, we once bought a car. It turned out not to be a good one. In fact, it was terrible. At the time, I thought we were in agreement to buy it, but it turns out my wife felt pressured into agreeing.
We didn’t have the car long, because, well, it was that bad. But, for years afterward, my wife would keep bringing it up. Why? The car wasn’t in our possession anymore. It wasn’t causing problems. It didn’t have significant long-term impacts on our finances. So, what was going on?
Wounds needs to be healed from
Well, it turns out there was an open wound still hurting her. When we bought the car, she felt the loss of a sense of safety. Her feeling of security was wounded. And years later, that feeling was still there. She didn’t trust that I wouldn’t push her into another bad purchase.
We finally talked about it after probably a decade or so and figured out what was going on, and she forgave me for my part in it. And guess what? We haven’t talked about it since. It’s done. The wound is healed, the conflict is gone and doesn’t come back around.
So, what are your conflicts that keep coming back around again? Are they resolved and healed from? Is it something you need to discuss, even if it’s uncomfortable? Might be worth the discomfort to avoid the next decade of recurring arguments.
If you need help managing the conflict, contact me about marriage coaching. We can create a safe way to do it that lessens or completely mitigates the potential risks and fallout.
5 thoughts on “Why do we keep having the same argument?”
I’m probably not alone, but our recurring conflict has to do with 20+ years of gatekeeping and blame shifting. I brought it up about 5 years ago and told my wife how it made me feel and what it has done, both psychologically and spiritually, and her response was”less than empathetic or apologetic.
Not too many months after, she went back to the same pattern, so I mentioned that she’s continuing to do what she’s done for 21+ years and I’m blamed for not letting it go and keeping a grudge. Repeat the same discussion every six months.
All the while I’ve been thinking in the back of my mind that this isn’t resolved because her patterns keep repeating and the hurt hasn’t really been acknowledged.
Well, at least I’ll be able to sleep better knowing I’m not crazy. My wife won’t read this article and won’t willingly have this conversation with me, but at least one of us will benefit!
Bryan – keep holding her feet to the fire on this one – what she is doing isn’t right.
I am going through the same thing but I am a high drive wife. After 10 years of sexual refusal/restriction along with emotional and verbal abuse I am finally done with the excuses and i am holding him accountable by pointing out instances of abuse or refusal every single time it happens. Additionally, i am in personal counseling and we are in marriage counseling.
I have been very clear that either things change quite a lot or our marriage wont survive. I dont recommend threatening divorce or similar but its part of the reality with how bad things have gotten in our marriage. And, unfortunately, all of this came as a terrible shock to my husband who thought our marriage was fine. In that sense, I have to take personal responsibility for being so passive.
I hope things improve for you!
We are making slow and painful progress. w
We always say there is a root cause to all problems. When you figure out what the real problem is, then you can work through it. It was never about the car- it was the pressure she felt. It’s so hard to figure out and communicate that to your spouse.
Very interesting article.
This happen a lot….
first: “the willing to solve the problem”
second: once you got the willing then GOOD COMMUNICATION.
When we solved our sexual problem, all other problems faded into the background. We have not had a real argument in a long time. Every once in awhile I will express my disappointment about something. I apologize if I become angry at the same time, but it does not last long. One point of conflict is how my wife seems to run late. We have had several arguments, discussions, reasoning’s over the situation. I have expressed how disappointed I am, how people are expecting her, etc. I have taken a suggestion by one of your readers and help her get things together for her to make her exit more smooth. I find her glasses, fill her water bottle, make breakfast, fill her backpack, clean up, load the car, etc. That has helped tremendously and last time we left the house, she was early. Yeah!!!