A survey of over 1100 people asked the question, “What do couples fight the most about?” The results show that fights are mainly about what we may consider “small” issues.
The number one issue that couples fight about is:
THE TELEVISION REMOTE!
Yes, control over the television, usually sports or no sports creates the biggest conflict in couples. Not money, not sex, not anything that we might deem really important.
Does this surprise you? It may seem like a mundane thing, yet the dynamic reflects the power struggle that erodes intimacy in many relationships over time (For more on the power struggle, read my blogpost, “The Three Stages Of Relationship“).
In my twenty plus years as a couples counselor, the reason for the fight isn’t as important as the way that a couple fights. The story isn’t what breaks up a relationship, it’s the style of dealing with conflict that can make or break it. John Gottman, Ph.D., a renowned relationship researcher writes about the four styles of interaction that can doom a relationship.
He calls them the Four Horsement of the Apocalypse and they are:
- Criticism : Taking a one up position and talking down to your partner with hurtful and mean statements about what they do and how they do it. It may also have a passive-aggressive flavor to it.
- Contempt: This is criticism on steroids. You not only complain about what your partner is doing, but you are now attacking their very character. They aren’t doing stupid things, they are stupid.
- Defensiveness: Taking everything personally as well as blaming everything that goes wrong on your partner. Taking no responsibility for your part in the interaction.
- Stonewalling: Disconnecting from your partner emotionally, intellectually and perhaps even physically. You won’t deal with anything or face any issues, leaving your partner feeling alone and isolated.
If one or more of these Four Horsemen are in your relationship, the prognosis for success is poor. The good news is that they ARE reversible with awareness and effort. If you find that you aren’t able to reduce their presence, you may very well benefit from professional help.
Please take action NOW to improve your relationship and your life!
I wish you the best,
Dr. Adam Sheck
If you’d like to know more about how to use the Five Keys to improve your relationship, click here to schedule your complimentary, 20 minute, “Create A Better Relationship Now” strategy session.