Fighting Constantly: Can Anyone Win?

They've been married for eight years and fighting constantly for the last three months. She can't let go of her anger and bad feelings any longer. Counseling is not an option. He says it's all her fault. She says, "I am so done." I think their marriage still has a chance of success. Here's what I told her.

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When you're constantly fighting your situation can only go from bad to worse. Nothing is going to get solved by these arguments. You are into an ugly cycle that can be broken.

Three months feels like forever but it really isn't much if you've had eight years together. When you don't have skills to clear up little problems and resentments they built up and finally explode. That's what's happening now.

You're complaining that he has stopped listening to you. That's absolutely true and what's also true is that you have stopped listening to him. You can't change him. You are the only one you can change right now.

There are ways to learn the skills you need without a marriage counselor, but first you have to stop the constant fighting. Since it takes two people to fight and he isn't about to stop, you need to take control. You can do it by learning to think instead of react. Believe it or not, it's possible to think even when you're very angry.

Here are three steps to help you get started.

1. As soon as you feel a fight starting say, "Excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom." Then go to the bathroom and lock the door. Turn on the water and take 10 slow, deep breaths. Think about what you think he is angry about. Leave the bathroom.

2. As calmly as you can say, "Are you angry because (fill in the blank with your guess)?"

3. Listen to whatever he says in response and then say, "Is there something you would like me to do about that?"

This will break the cycle of fighting and open a conversation about what he wants. Listen carefully and you may find that you're sympathetic and want to help him. Once he feels heard he may even be willing to listen to you.

In any case, you will both probably feel a lot better about each other and start solving other problems together.

You can find more information about how to save your marriage without a marriage counselor at

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