Did they fight, each arguing and hoping to win? Maybe one was angry and the other complaint. Or maybe one was angry and the other logically explaining or defending. Maybe one shut down or withdrew; maybe they both did.
We pick up so much from the way the people who raised us behaved throughout our earliest memories. What you do now when in conflict with a partner, friend, or relative likely follows the role modeling of your parents and caregivers.
My parents would briefly fight, yelling and blaming each other, and then either my father would comply—or they both withdrew. I never saw any conflict between them truly get resolved. Sometimes one or the other would explain or defend, but that led nowhere. Of course, because this is what I saw, this is what I learned to do. Just like I’d watched them do all throughout my childhood, I became addicted to trying to control the outcomes of my arguments with my husband. It took me years to figure out how to switch my intent from controlling the situation (and him) to learning and loving.
After 30 tumultuous years of marriage as well as over 50 years of working with individuals and couples, here’s what I’ve learned about arguing in a long-term relationship: