One of hardest things to handle in a relationship is conflict. While a good and fair fight can clear air and help you to feel closer to your lover, many fights are just hurtful and destructive. Fights that never go anywhere, that are repeated year after year, or that leave you feeling awful about yourself are not going to help your relationship. Those are kinds of fights we need to take another look at, and find out what is going on underneath. This is true for any conflict that doesn't feel right, not just those you have with your lover.
With most fights, there are layers of what we mean, feel, intend, hope for, and believe, and what we actually say. We may only say a little of how we feel, or we may even say opposite of how we're feeling on a much deeper level than surface. Problems arise when we don't come from deeper levels.
Some people think that top layer of what they feel and think is all that there is, yet they feel something's missing in their relationship. Others know how they feel but instead of stating their feelings as their own, they blame how they feel on their lover, leading to hurt feelings and arguing that goes nowhere. This is often time that people call it quits on a relationship.
Many break-ups occur because we do not know how to get to our inner depth, or getting to it, how to share it. What we want to say isn't what comes out of our mouths. We argue about something meaningless in order to get space from our lover, rather than feel anxiety or fear we may have about setting boundaries or looking at what we need. We argue to feel more alive, instead of looking at what is missing in our life. We argue about what our lover spent money on, rather than face our own issues about money. We argue as a way to control our lover, rather than face our fear of being controlled.
Regardless of content of argument, until we are prepared to express and respect our lover's deeper feelings, beliefs, and meanings (and s/he respects ours), very little change can take place.
We can work around our lover's "sensitive points," expect them to do same for us, and make compromises, but how far does that really take us? While problem-solving can help, particularly in immediate future, often it isn't enough for long run. As long as deeper issues remain unaddressed, our relationship will be flattened, soured, or lost to meaningless fights.
So how do you get underneath arguments? By being vulnerable and risking being as open and as honest about yourself as you can with your lover. Take anything you argue about and ask yourself what is upsetting you. Usually people will respond with answers that are about their lovers - s/he spends too much money, s/he is defensive, s/he doesn't listen to me. Now try asking yourself following questions:
*what about that bothers you? *how do you feel about it? *how do you react to it, and what does it mean to you? *what if anything are you afraid of? *what do you believe it means about you or your relationship? *does it remind you of anyone?