Top 3 Things To Know About Attacks in Marital Fights (And How To Avoid Them)

marital fight

  1. Chasing and attacking a partner who is less active can be miserable experience

Each partner in a marriage behaves in a certain way. When it comes to arguments and confrontations, one partner typically attacks or pursues and the other one withdraws or stays passive. Being active and pursuing a partner that is passive can be a very unpleasant experience. The passive partner usually sees the more active partner as someone who lets their anger and irritation get the best out of them. People who take on withdrawing roles and those who may witness a conflict are typically completely unaware of all the hurt and fear that active people feel deep inside.


  1. Attacking and withdrawing look completely different, but have the same underlying emotions

On the surface, when a couple argues and one of the partners is attacking, it may look that the attacking partner is acting out of anger and the quiet partner is a victim.

For example, a spouse may say to the partner that the partner forgot to pack Christmas decorations. The partner would respond that he or she had a lot of more important issues to deal with and the conversation quickly escalates to a confrontation.

Often, both partners have absolutely identical underlying emotions that lead them to behave the way they do. A pursuing partner may be attacking because underneath he or she feels frustration, loneliness, invalidation, and deficiency. For such a person, pursuits and attacks are the way to solve the issues. Such spouses believe that if they don’t do anything, the relationship will fail. This is why they choose to attack.


  1. The way to change the dynamics is to deal with the real issues

The solution to stop pursuing the partner is to face internal feelings in the way that you haven’t done before. If you find yourself pursuing your partner, you need to understand that what you do in hopes to get a result most likely gets you the opposite of what you want. You allow yourself to react to a secondary emotion of your spouse, such as irritation or frustration about a matter, and your reaction pushes your partner further away from you.

Instead, try something very different next time. Don’t act in the way you typically would. Figure out what you are really feeling. Stay calm and talk about your feelings. For example, you may let your partner know that when he or she forgets to keep a promise it makes you feel like you are not being valued. This will invite your partner to respond with attention and care. Such a response may not occur the first time and you may not get it every time. What you will find, however, is that when you partner sees you coming to him or her being open and vulnerable, he or she will start coming towards you instead of pushing you away.