People think, ‘If we have enough money, we have enough love
You know that feeling when you can sense a fight coming on with your partner? You get that knot in your stomach, your blood starts to boil, and your mind races. It’s okay to embrace the battle, according to relationship experts Dr. Judith Wright and Dr. Bob Wright – as long as you know what you’re really fighting about.
“Fighting is so good because your relationship is about growing and becoming the very best person you can become. Fights are one of your best tools for learning,” Judith tells GoodHousekeeping. “They’re servicing a lot of your unconscious gunk. They’re bringing problems up to the service. They’re letting you know what you care about, what you really desire, what you really yearn for deep inside. They’re teaching you so much.”
The wrote a book on the topic, Heart of the Fight, out February 2. They break down the 15 most common fights – and what they really say about your relationship.
If you find yourselves blaming each other for who ruined the vacation or whose fault it was that you were late for the dinner party, your expectations are probably out of whack. “A couple like this has got some growing up to do to really be able to take more responsibility to go after what they need and what instead of just dumping it on the other partner,” Judith says. “You’ve got to break this belief that your partner’s supposed to make you happy. You probably have some fairytale-type expectations.”
They advise: “Instead of assigning blame in arguments, figure out what you’re so upset about, what went wrong, and how to change it now and in the future.”
We all have these fights: You feel like your partner never does the dishes, best dating apps for divorced or he’s constantly leaving the toilet set up. As you probably guessed, it’s never really just about that domestic dispute. “It may look like dirty socks on the floor, but you’re feeling like the other person isn’t appreciating your contributions,” Judith says. “This is often the way power-and-control struggles play out in a relationship: trying to get dominance.”
The Wrights say insecurity about money means uncertainty about your relationship
So instead of fighting over socks, talk about needing to feel valued and ask for help, Bob adds. “Research has shown that in the first 10 years of a relationship, power and control and conflict have been proven to be foundational to the best relationships long-term. And you get to be a better team.”
Fights over finances can strike from a lot of different angles. Maybe one partner is a lavish spender and the other is more frugal, or being short on funds puts a constant strain on the relationship.
“Money symbolizes so many things,” Judith explains. “It symbolizes power and love. ‘ It’s very primal. Having resources makes us feel safe and secure. The thought of any scarcity can really trigger some really deep primal fights for couples.” If you and your partner are on the same page about budgeting, that goes a long way to fending off fights – and financial shortages.
Giving your partner the silent treatment, making passive-aggressive jabs, or keeping frustration pent up inside isn’t going to fix whatever is bothering you. “For some, it’s this passive settling, this seething, boiling underneath,” says Judith, who likens these fights to secretly giving your partner a middle finger. “If you’re not willing to let this stuff out, you’re not willing to have the intimacy that you could have. It’s really a lack of investment.”