I used to be friends with a couple who I had to stop spending time with, because everytime we all got together they would inevitably have a blowout fight — usually in public and usually over something petty. The first few times it happened, I was shocked to see how quickly it escalated from bickering to raised voices and name calling. Over time, I came to almost expect it. Not great. Unsurprisingly, they eventually divorced because when fights with your partner always turn into huge blowouts, it’s probably a pretty big red flag that there are deeper issues in the relationship.
Relationship coach Brenda Della Casa agrees. "It’s perfectly normal, even healthy, to have disagreements with your partner but having blow out fights showcases several concerning behaviors in a relationship: a lack of communication, respect and control over oneself being the most obvious," she tell Elite Daily.
Dr. Patti Feuereisen, a psychotherapist specializing in sexual abuse and author of Invisible Girls: Speaking The Truth About Sexual Abuse, tells Elite Daily that frequent blowouts can be a sign of communication issues in the relationship. "Partners need to communicate. When something is wrong they need to discuss and not be afraid that the confrontation to the problem will end up in a blowout," she says. "If you are in a relationship where there is a blowout every time you try to have a discussion, that is an intrinsic problem in the communication style." So, if you suspect that you and your partner are falling into this pattern, here is how the experts say to break out of it.
Don’t confuse anger for passion.
Do you equate the anger of a blow-up fight with passion? If so, the experts warn this is an unhealthy pattern in your relationship. “Many times, high drama and toxic habits such as yelling and stonewalling are cloaked under the name of ‘passion’ and ‘fire’ when in reality there’s never an excuse to treat your partner with disrespect,” warns Della Casa.
It’s also not a fix for sexual issues in the relationship, says Dr. Feuereisen. “Some couples that have sexual problems describe make-up sex as the best sex in their relationship and that make up sex always follows a blow-up. The couple feels a great release of all they have been holding back that comes out in a huge blowout and then they cling to each other sexually,” she explains. But the reality is that you are doing harm to the relationship. “Blowouts can be abusive, you can say things you only mean at the moment but the hurt from the blowout can linger,” says Dr. Feuereisen.
Avoid fighting about the past.
Do you find that your fights always return to past grievances, only to escalate? Della Casa calls this type of a blowout "kitchen sink" fighting. “[It’s] where one or both partners bring up old disagreements and take pot shots, throwing ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ into the argument,” she explains. But these kinds of fight have a corrosive effect on the relationship. “This may feel good to the person throwing things around in the moment but it’s not productive and can cause further damage,” she warns.
Take a break to calm the situation.
Next time you feel the fight heading into a more explosive place, Della Casa says it’s time to take a break to calm down. “It’s important to remember that there is power in pausing. You don’t have to address every grievance the moment it arises and taking time to cool off and think about what’s really bothering you is a great way to ensure conversations stay on track. This is important as being specific when having a disagreement helps to ensure clarity,” she advises.
Dr. Feuereisen suggests taking a moment to catch your breath, literally. “You need to learn to breathe and count to 10 or 20 before blowing up. If the issues and emotions are too hot, perhaps first communicate them in an email and ask for a time to discuss after work or in the morning, whatever time works best for both of you to be more calm,” she advises.
Work on your listening skills.
Calming down and taking a breath is a great first step to changing the blowout fight pattern, but in order for it to be effective, Della Casa says, you also have to learn to listen. “It’s equally important to allow both sides to share how they feel and what they need. It’s not always easy to sit quietly and listen, especially if you’re both used to going from zero to 60, but developing new communication skills is possible if you’re both on board,” she explains.
A partner should always respect you.
“At the end of the day, your partner is someone you should be able to count on to work through life with you, to love you and to treat you with respect,” says Della Casa. This is why she stresses that you should never feel like you have to put up with a relationship where the mode of communication is blowing up. “Having disagreements is normal, but do you really want to be with someone who makes you battle for basic needs such as understanding to me met?,” she asks.
Dr. Feuereisen adds that this is especially true if those blowouts include any form of abuse. “Let me be clear,” she says, “it is never OK to physically hurt your partner, never, especially in anger.”
The takeaway here is that the experts say arguments in relationships are normal and are actually one of the ways that couples communicate. What is not normal or healthy is if those arguments regularly turn into blowouts. There are some things to do to break that cycle, but you don’t have to accept or put up with that dynamic if you are unhappy.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.
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