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Why do we keep squabbling over nothing?

Kmpzzz / Shutterstock.com

Why do we keep squabbling over nothing?

How to fight and stay in love

Published on 06 June, 2024

Kmpzzz / Shutterstock.com

June Yong

author

When she’s not hiding out at a café or having funny little conversations with her three children, June can be found editing articles or dreaming up podcast episodes for Focus on the Family Singapore.

Have you ever got into a heated argument with your boy/girlfriend or spouse, and then looked back and thought, “What were we actually arguing about?” 

 

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, you’re not alone. 

What Lies Behind These Petty Squabbles? 

At the heart of these seemingly small and insignificant conflicts is the basic human need to be seen and acknowledged. 

When we argue over “nothing,” what is often below the surface are feelings of being undervalued or unseen.  

It’s not about the socks left on the floor, but what those socks represent: perhaps there’s perceived imbalance in sharing household chores, or simply feeling unappreciated for what you do. 

 

Alicia Boo, Principal Counsellor of Focus on the Family Singapore, explains, “Small couple squabbles can sometimes be symptoms of larger issues in a relationship. It is important to look beneath the surface to explore our deeper needs and emotions that may not have been addressed.” 

 

Moreover, the fast-paced lifestyle and a highly stressful environment in Singapore can often exacerbate tensions over minor issues. 

 

As we find themselves struggling to connect or to share our deeper needs with our spouse due to a lack of time, every small irritation or tension can be further amplified, resulting in big and overwhelming feelings of being misunderstood or unloved. 

 

Active listening plays a crucial role here—and this involves more than just listening; it is about listening to understand the feelings and needs of the other person. 

 

Communication is Key

The cornerstone of navigating these minor conflicts lies in effective communication. It’s essential for us to learn how to be open about our feelings and perspectives, while keeping blame and harsh criticism out of the equation.  

Active listening plays a crucial role here—and this involves more than just listening; it is about listening to understand the feelings and needs of the other person. 

 

As Ms Boo explains, “By putting oneself in the other’s shoes, it becomes easier to understand their frustrations and respond in love and kindness. Practising empathetic listening can prevent many conflicts from escalating.” 

 

How to Fight and Stay in Love: Some Practical Strategies

  1. Pick your battles: Not every disagreement needs to be a battle. Sometimes, letting go of the small stuff can lead to greater peace and focus on what truly matters in the relationship. 
  2. Establish rituals of connection: Regularly set aside time to connect without distractions. Whether it’s a weekly date night or a brief coffee break together, these moments can build a buffer against the stress of daily life and reduce the likelihood of conflicts.
  3. Choose your words carefully: We all know that emotions can get high during fights, which is why it’s always important to make measured statements and give your partner calm responses. And to call for a time out if emotions get out of control. Remember, effective communication should be the cornerstone of every couple squabble.
  4. Use “I” statements: Frame your feelings and needs in terms of “I” rather than “you.” For example, saying “I feel overwhelmed when the living room is cluttered” instead of “You never clean up” can foster a more constructive conversation.
  5. Seek to listen to understand and resolve the issue: Remember that the goal of engaging in any conflict is to gain a deeper understanding of each other. If you direct your energy at identifying and resolving the issue, and not at hurting your partner’s feelings or proving that you’re right, you are on the right track.
  6. Make requests instead of complaints: Your message may be better received if you frame it as a request rather than a complaint. Instead of saying, “Why don’t you ever pick up your dirty socks and clothing,” try something like, “The bedroom is looking messy—can you remember to place your dirty laundry into the basket next time?”
  7. Consider professional help: If minor conflicts are frequent and damaging, it might be helpful to consult with a relationship counsellor. Professional guidance can provide tools and strategies to improve communication and resolve conflicts. 

It’s almost a given that petty squabbles will erupt at some point in a relationship—especially in marriage as we spend considerable amounts of time with our spouse. 

 

The good news is that conflicts can lead to greater understanding, if we learn to fight well, communicate with empathy, and commit to stay in love with the other person regardless of what has been said or done. 


June Yong

author

When she’s not hiding out at a café or having funny little conversations with her three children, June can be found editing articles or dreaming up podcast episodes for Focus on the Family Singapore.

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