When you've been with someone for years, you already know what makes them angry.
We're all probably familiar with the expression, "No one knows what goes on behind closed doors."
Some couples have very loud, public screaming matches. I'm not talking about those types of fights here. Some couples engage in dangerous, abusive behavior when they fight. I'm not talking about that right now either.
I'm talking about how everyday married couples actually fight when no one is around, behind those proverbial closed doors.
In most seasoned partnerships, there usually isn't a succession of big, dramatic arguments in the middle of a thundering rainstorm like we see in the movies. That kind of thing can be reserved for the more passionate dating/beginning-of-relationship phase.
When long-time couples are not vibing with each other, many times the people around them are completely oblivious. Signs of discourse could be a flutter of sarcastic jabs back and forth to let each other know they're annoyed. It can be a large amount of silence between a couple that gives away their displeasure with each other. It can even be body language.
Then there are the looks. The eyes have so much power. Glances can express a plethora of emotion within a relationship. It could be a look across a dinner table that expresses, "Why did you say that?" or "I'm so over you right now." Sometimes words aren't even needed at all.
When you've been with someone for years, you already know what makes them angry and where their vulnerable spots are.
Sometimes a fight can be a quick exchange of sharp words followed by silence. Maybe one of you simply leaves the room. It's not always about yelling and screaming through-the-roof.
There can be a lot of frustrated silences in a marriage because over time and with experience each partner knows getting into a huge fight can be a waste of time and energy. Most of the time, spouses already know exactly what the other is going to say in retort to their grievance, so why even go down that road?
At the end of the day, most couples know they're in it for the long haul so they opt to skip the dramatics and choose a cool-down period instead.
A fight when you're married can just mean a night on the couch because you just want some alone time and your partner's irritating you. Maybe you just want to watch something on TV that you like for a change.
Generally speaking, a fight may not have anything to do with your partner and more about the need for personal space.
And therein lies a massive part of fighting when you're married and sharing a life together. It's almost never about the amount of love in the relationship. It's frequently about external influences. Kids, money, jobs, decisions, chores — all the things that bind you both together and also make life as a functioning couple extremely challenging.
Fighting when you're married is normal. When I meet a couple who says they never argue, I find it hard to digest. There are going to be at least a few disputes that come up over the course of a relationship, probably many.
Occasionally, having a huge fight where yelling is involved can bring up repressed issues and even relieve tension. A big fight every once in awhile can actually be healthy and lead to productive resolutions. The important thing to remember is that even though losing our temper is human, we must learn to manage anger and communicate clearly if we want our relationship to survive.
As you move along in life with your partner you should be able to learn how to fight better. By this, I mean you can learn how to express your needs without a bad attitude, the use of name-calling, or habitual silent treatments.
It takes time and effort to learn how to engage with a partner about your frustrations without losing your mind. That's why they make you take vows when you get married. For better or for worse — even behind closed doors.
Originally a Vancouver Island native, Michelle Zunter now resides in California where she is an ex-corporate slave, writer, artist, mother, stepmother, and wife. Join Michelle as she explores society, parenting, step-parenting, relationships, and much more.
This article was originally published at Huffington Post. Reprinted with permission from the author.