When arguments become destructive, they are very dangerous to the relationship. The way people argue tells a lot about their relationship and can predict the outcome of the marriage. Although many people who have heated arguments don’t end up in divorce, a pattern of destructive arguments can lead to irreversible damage.
Destructive arguments mean that either one person wins only or no one wins at all. These patterns prevent both partners from feeling mutually supported and respected. Couples who experience destructive disagreements tend to lack problem-solving skills.
High conflict arguments mean that one or both partners get mean. They may say and do things that they wouldn’t normally say or do. Name calling, labelling, and embarrassing your partner aren’t things you can ever take back. An apology can’t un-do them and they can permanently damage your emotional connection.
Many people who have negative interactions stop communicating altogether. Both partners avoid talking about their feelings, needs, and desires. This can impact a couple’s emotional intimacy as well as physical intimacy.
Couples caught in these patterns tend to become more stressed. The stress of the disagreements can build up. Also, with less emotional intimacy, there is less opportunity for stress relief, often contributing to more and more stress. This can become a cycle that can cause people to develop mental health problems as well as physical health issues.
For couples with children, the children also can begin to suffer consequences. When children see high conflict interactions, they often develop emotional difficulties. They may become anxious and stressed and may exhibit behavioral problems as a result.
If you have been experiencing high conflict disagreements, it is important to learn to take responsibility for making changes. Even if your partner refuses to make changes, you can make changes that will influence your partner. You also can make the decision to end disagreements prior to negative interactions occurring. Marriage counseling can be helpful for couples who are struggling to make these changes on their own.