The One Fight All Couples Have Before Tying The Knot

 / 

Mike reared his wide eyes toward Julie. “That is NOT the reception budget that we agreed on last week!”

Julie, dumbfounded, blinked back at her red-faced betrothed. “We’ve discussed this at least three times already. You always go back on your word about these things.”

Lacy: “Which color do you like better for the boutonnieres, pink or teal?”
Robert: “Sure. Whichever. I really don’t care.”
Lacy: “Why can’t you act like you care about this wedding for five seconds??”
Robert: [Blank stare]
Lacy: “Pick your own colors. I’m done.”

Jake: “You do realize that once we’re married, you can’t go to your parents every single night for dinner.”
Josh: “Um, dear, you knew you were marrying my whole family when you said yes.”

In each of the above scenarios, which partner do you think won?

There is one fight that all couples have before they tie the knot. It is the fight for control.

Although this fight is usually subdued, it can be emotionally reactive and masked by the denial of both partners. Engaged couples are especially at risk of mishandling this pattern because greater issues are often disguised as wedding planning stress, or the conflict is avoided altogether because of the myth that premarital couples shouldn’t fight.

Behaving in controlling ways – either overtly or covertly – gives a person a semblance of certainty and comfort, usually as a way to manage their own insecurities about the relationship or their own self-worth. In the moment when we should team up with our partner and share our vulnerabilities with them most, we wall ourselves off to emotionally protect ourselves.

Marriage is about bringing two completely different worlds together to create a shared experience of life and love. It makes sense, then, that this transition often consists of friction, disagreements, and a normal resistance to change – like a “my way or the highway” mentality.

Underneath all fights for control are deeper questions of:

“Can I really trust that we are a team? That you will stand up for me to the rest of the world above all else? Do you really, truly GET me? Will you still love me, even if I completely disagree?”

Dr. John Gottman’s research revealed that couples wait an average of six years before seeking help. So, what can you do to tackle the pattern of control before it starts?

Do not wait until things get worse to address them. Learn how to manage these patterns in a healthy way for your relationship right now.

Here are some ways to avoid getting caught in the fight for control:

1. Don’t sweep it under the rug

Avoidance will only prolong conflict and make it messier and harder to deal with the next time. When you are experiencing frustration, resistance, or insecurity with your partner about something, bring it up by using a softened startup. A trap that couples often struggle with is the “I was waiting for you to bring it up first” paradox. Be assertive, be brave, and be respectful of your partner’s otherness when it comes to conflict and differences.

Control is about winning. If 69% of the things couples fight about are completely unsolvable, then the goal should be less about being right and more about understanding, validating one another’s point of view, and maintaining respect.

 

2. Know yourself

Become aware of how you tend to fight for control. Do you put others down, shame your partner, or shame yourself? Do you play the victim role or manipulate through blame or entitlement? Do you hide your emotions from your partner but feel lonely, disconnected, or anxious about certain aspects of marriage?

Self-awareness takes mindfulness, vulnerability, and a willingness to accept responsibility for your part in the conflict. It is not your partner’s job to uncover your tactics. Accountability will allow you to be more assertive and honest in those moments when you want to shut down or lash out the most.

 

3. Check your connection

How are you doing at staying connected to each other? Feeling validated by your partner through the thick and thin of wedding planning holds so much value. Dr. John Gottman’s research has shown the importance of maintaining intentional connection by creating shared meaning and responding to your partner’s bids for connection. Prioritize date nights and quality time together with no wedding talk allowed.

As marriage and family therapist Terry Real, author of The New Rules of Marriage, says: “control is just an illusion.” You will never be able to control, change, or know with complete certainty that your partner will be there for you and show up for the relationship at all times. There is no guarantee that your marriage will last. This is the risk of being in a relationship.

What you can guarantee is your own willingness to show up, to resist the need to be right or to control your partner, and to turn towards the opportunities to address your differences in order to build a strong foundation toward lasting marital vitality and success.


By Liz Higgins, LMFT Associate

This article was originally published on The Gottman Relationship Blog.

Are you getting ready to tie the knot? See if your relationship has the 7 Signs Your Relationship Will Last by getting a free copy of our guide here.

 

You May Also Like

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply



Up Next

10 Riveting Movies About Broken Marriages: How Love Crumbles Over Time

Best Movies About Broken Marriages: How Love Dies

Marriage is supposed to represent love and commitment, but it’s not always a fairy tale. Below are some of the movies about broken marriages that challenge the “happily ever after” stereotype!

Sometimes, things start falling apart — from within or without — and this is frequently caused by different pressures and conflicts.

Broken marriage movies have taken up this subject widely, giving us stories that are sad, or even hopeful around relationships.

Below you’ll find ten such unhappy marriage movies that show how love can breakdown and be turbulent – each films look at human



Up Next

Friendship Marriage: Japan’s Latest Relationship Trend Explained

Friendship Marriage: Japan's Latest Marriage Trend Explained

Friendship marriage is the latest relationship trend taking the world by storm, and it’s got everyone talking. Forget the traditional notions of romance and commitment; these couples are rewriting the rules of marriage and how!

This unique approach has not only got people talking, but it’s also challenging many societal norms when it comes to marriage, romantic relationships, physical intimacy and cohabitation.

So, are you ready to unravel what the friendship marriage in Japan is all about? Let’s go then.

Related: 5 Simple Ways To Strengthen The Friendship In Your Marriage<



Up Next

Should I Start a Family? 10 Reasons That Might Convince You

Should I Start a Family? Reasons That Might Convince You

Two paths are diverging before you at a crossroads. You can either continue with your present life which has the comforts you know so well, or you could choose the other path which goes into the unknown. 

The decision to start a family is one of those big adventures in life that leaves us breathless with awe; it is filled with twists and turns and love upon love.

This article takes you on an exciting journey of decoding parenthood: an adventure that is both daunting and thrilling, and joyous as well as demanding.

Whether it is from the depths of unconditional love or soaring heights of leaving a lasting impact, each reason acts as a lighthouse in this respect.

Therefore, let’s examine these 10 reasons why to start a family!



Up Next

8 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Want To Avoid Marrying The Wrong Person

Marrying The Wrong Person? Important Questions To Ask

Picture this: you’re standing at the altar, surrounded by beaming friends and family, moments away from saying “I do” to the person who you thought was your soulmate and the love of your life. But deep down, you can’t ignore the nagging feeling that something doesn’t feel right. Could it be possible that you’re marrying the wrong person?

The fear of marrying the wrong person lingers in the hearts of many, and it’s a fear worth exploring, because this is your life we are talking about. In this article, we’ll dive into eight essential questions that you should ask yourself before taking that leap into forever.

So, grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and let’s unravel how to avoid marrying the wrong person.



Up Next

63 Conversation Starters For Deep Dialogues With Your Partner

Conversation Starters For Deep Dialogues With Your Partner

Why conversation starters? Over time conversations with your partner might begin to feel shallow and focused more on the daily grind than topics that actually matter. This is normal. It’s probably not a dangerous red flag that your relationship is about to end, but it is likely unsatisfying and monotonous.

It’s quite easy to reignite the spark with your partner by enjoying deeper and more meaningful conversations just by becoming more intentional in carving out time to talk.

We all know that communication is key to a healthy relationship, but let’s be honest; talking about what’s for dinner or whose turn it is to walk the dog just won’t cut it.

If you’re yearning for a deeper connection, it’s worth dedicating ten to fifteen minutes a day to one of the most important people in your life.



Up Next

When You Outgrow Love: What Is Grey Divorce And How To Thrive After

What Is Grey Divorce and How to Redefine Your Story

Divorce is never an easy decision to make. But sometimes life happens and you have to do the unimaginable. Grey divorce is one such experience that can feel like an unthinkable decision, yet, you know you just need to take the step. But what is grey divorce?

In life, at a certain stage we may feel that it is absolutely crucial that we start over, not only to survive but also to thrive. It becomes necessary that we step into the unknown regardless how scary or irrational it may sound. And the same goes for a marriage. 

Even if you may have shared a lifetime together and created lasting memories and experiences, a divorce may be the only option left for a happier, healthier and better life. That’s the reality for an increasing number of couples who find themselves in the realm of “grey divorce.” 



Up Next

What Does Being Submissive Mean? 9 Warning Signs You Might Be A Meek, Submissive Woman

What Does Being Submissive Mean? Signs Of A Meek Woman

Ever wondered, “What does being submissive mean?” Well, let’s put it this way: it’s like constantly being in the backseat of your life’s car, letting others take the wheel while you navigate the road of existence.

For example, meet Jess. She’s that friend who’s always putting everyone else’s happiness and needs before her own, and she often finds herself getting involved in abusive and unhealthy relationships.

If you relate to Jess and the ways she lives life, then you might be in for a very rude reality check. Because this points to the realm of female submissiveness. Stick around as we uncover nine warning signs that scream, “Hey, you might be more like Jess than you think!”

Related: