We Fight But Never Resolve Anything – A Couples Complaint

“The problem,” Jessica said, “is we fight, but we never actually resolve anything. I feel like we are just drifting further and further apart.” Her husband Dan, speaks up. “Well, she’s constantly bringing up the past. She can never let anything go and I can’t even remember the things she’s upset about. I feel like there’s no way I can win.” Jessica and Dan’s situation is common. Jessica feels like Dan never hears her and Dan feels helpless to change. What is actually happening here? What Jessica Wants Jessica  wants something desperately from Dan that she can’t get. When fights center on past events, Jessica wants Dan to understand her pain and take some responsibility for causing it. Events have occurred which have reinforced her feelings of sadness and hurt. The antidote for sadness and hurt is understanding and often includes assuming some responsibility for causing the hurt. It often also includes taking action to change the behaviors and attitudes which have caused the hurt. What Dan Needs When Jessica asks or demands that Dan listen to her and help her to feel better, Dan doesn’t hear her needs, but rather he hears a repetitive nagging and criticism of himself. He initially responds with defensiveness. He is unable to hear what Jessica is really asking for, because her demands feel like an attack, and he feels like he needs to don his armor to protect himself. He may believe he has done everything he can to make her feel better, with no results. This makes Dan feel hopeless. Eventually, if he continues to feel that he can’t change anything, he may withdraw. A number of different...