Don’t be worried if you argue with your spouse every now and then. It generally means you care about the relationship, said Elisabeth J. LaMotte, a psychotherapist and founder of the DC Counseling and Psychotherapy Center.
“All couples who are invested and present in their marriage will fight,” she told Huffington Post. “A total absence of conflict can be a serious cause for concern.”
That said, constantly arguing isn’t healthy, either. Below, therapists share seven common reasons couples can’t seem to avoid the same old fights.
1. You’re stressed about other areas in your life.
“If you let stress get the better of you, it will creep into the relationship and there’s really only one place to put it: onto your partner,” Brittle said. “In my experience, most conflict is about how partners talk to each other, rather than what they’re talking about.”
To curb this behavior, Brittle tells couples to cultivate an “us against the world” mentality.
“That usually helps reduce the stress of your job or your kids or your finances and gives you a reason to bond together,” he explained.
2. You keep revisiting unfinished business.
If you can’t stop fighting about one issue in particular, give yourself the time and emotional space to reflect on what the conflict is really about, LaMotte said.
“If you grew up with a lot of financial instability, conversations about money may feel exceedingly charged even if you and your spouse have much greater financial stability than your parents. Be honest, is pain from your past driving an overreaction?” she said. “Acknowledging that you are projecting some of your own conflicts into an argument or admitting that unfinished business is triggering your intensity does not mean that you’re being weak or caving in.”
3. You give the silent treatment.
Refusing to talk or engage with your spouse in a meaningful way is a subtle but powerful way to keep an argument alive, said Kurt Smith, a marriage and family therapist who specializes in counseling for men.
“The silent treatment is used to hurt, punish, control and manipulate the other spouse,” he said. “Sadly, it often works, too.”
Instead of stonewalling your spouse, Smith said to open up to him or her about what’s bothering you.
4. You’re a nag.
People are nags for a reason, Amy Begel, a marriage and family therapist based in New York City, said.
“The most common scenario I see is where the wife appears to be nagging but she’s actually just responding to her partner’s apparent lack of engagement in whatever issue is at hand,” Begel said. “She ‘nags’ because he either blows her off, appears not to hear or is noncommittal in the argument. Nagging is an often unconscious attempt to engage the partner emotionally.”
To see the other not-so-obvious reasons you're not fighting with your spouse, click here.
>> Read more: 8 Things Happily Married Couples Do Every Day