Fights between partners expose our most vulnerable, panicky, hateful selves. Nothing else can open an abyss of confusion and madness like a stalemate half an hour into a fight with our partner. We can find ourselves treating our partner, even when we're not still in the fight, more reprehensibly than we would a stranger. This is by design, for it is not only our conscious mind that chooses our partner; our unconscious mind has a say as well. There are lots of theories about why our unconscious mind chooses partners for us that are our polar opposites in so many ways, who are destined to push our buttons and entrap us in circular fights. In my work as a psychotherapist, I choose to believe it is so that we can use them to heal both of us from our core.
But first we need to find a way to fight that moves us forward:
Sometimes folks worry that the fact of their fighting or that the intensity of their fights means they “aren’t meant to be”. Fighting as a couple is normative, and the fact that fights are intense is appropriately meaningful. This gives both of you access to core issues. With the help of a loving partner, and maybe a little psychotherapy, your fights could lead you to a fuller, richer life.
Smith is the founder/director of Full Living: A Psychotherapy Practice, which offers clinical services with seasoned, cultural competent clinicians throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.
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