The Low-Effort Emotional Skill That Prevents Heartache When You're Fighting Too Much

As long as you don't go overboard practicing this relational skill, it can seriously save your relationship.

Last updated on Oct 26, 2023

couple emotionally separating for the better of their marriage Pixelshot, Daniel_Nebreda | Canva

We’ve all had those epic battles with our spouses that leave us shattered and questioning why we’re still with them.

As much as you dreamed your marriage would be different and maybe even better than the marriages you observed growing up, your marriage is pretty much the same as those other ones. The rosy glow of new love has worn off, and you’ve discovered the road to "happily ever after" has a few potholes.


Yes, potholes are a euphemism for the epic battles that seem to be part and parcel of your marriage, but there is one skill that can make a world of difference.

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The emotional skill that can save your relationship when you're fighting way too much

Practice emotional detachment

The best thing you can do to prevent the typical aftermath of pain from your arguments is to practice a little emotional detachment.


"A little" is critical here. You don’t want to detach from your spouse, but you want to add some space between you and your emotions when a battle is underway.

An easy way to add a little space is to remember what your spouse says is more about the words than about you. That’s true if they’re saying (or yelling) horrible things about you.

When your spouse makes a statement, it comes from their point of view. This includes their perceptions, assumptions, understanding, beliefs, and emotions. It’s all about them.

You might believe they’re wrong, but remember that’s from your point of view. This includes all your perceptions, assumptions, understanding, beliefs, and emotions).


So, instead of becoming embroiled in the battle, you can become curious about what they’re saying. Once you’ve acknowledged their statement and emotion, you can ask clarifying questions to understand why your spouse is saying what they’re saying.

By doing so, you’ll automatically be practicing a bit of emotional detachment.

Now, let's dig into why you might be fighting so much in the first place 

To supplement emotional detachment, we need to look closely at why fights happen in relationships. Married couples' fights can become horrible at times for four big reasons — and once you understand that, it may be easier to detach just enough to see that not every disagreement is the end of your relationship!

1. Fights happen because you know each other better than anyone else.

Remember when you first fell in love and would spend hours talking? Well, that’s how you first got to know each other. Then, as you spent more and more time together, you learned more and more about each other.


This deep familiarity between you makes every argument more hurtful because of the underlying assumption of trust to care for each other above everything else.

2. Fights happen because you trust each other with just about everything.

This trust, which permeates your entire relationship, gets thrown into question every time you have a fierce argument. You begin to wonder if you can trust them, and if you can continue to trust yourself for picking them to be your spouse in the first place.

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3. Fights happen because you live together.

Unless you’ve got a long-distance marriage, you’re with each other a lot of the time. There’s no running off back to your place to cool down after a fight because you live together. You share a home and probably a bedroom.


This closeness works well when things are going well, but when things go poorly this togetherness can make it extremely difficult to recover from a battle.

4. Fights happen because you tend to trigger each other’s sensitivities.

You have wounds from the past, just like everybody else does. Sometimes, events in the present can trigger hurt from the past.

Once your spouse triggers your past hurt, the hurt demands that you deal with it.

(If you tend to feel abandoned, alienated, dependent, emasculated, empty, enmeshed, helpless, inferior, insignificant, patronized, powerless, rejected, subordinate, used, weak, or worthless when you and your honey argue, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.)


The intimacy and trust you’ve developed over the years, combined with the fact that you’re human, can make it hard to separate yourself from your spouse. When things are going well, that closeness is great! Yet, when things aren’t going so well, your battles leave you devastated.

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One final tip for helping you detach 


Another simple way to separate yourself from the battle so you don’t leave it feeling destroyed is to remember that your spouse is human despite the transformation that usually occurs when you argue with them.

Their anger could easily cover up one of their sensitivities, such as abandonment, alienation, dependence, powerlessness, emasculation, emptiness, helplessness, insignificance, worthlessness, etc.) that you’ve accidentally triggered.


By remembering that they’re a sensitive person too (as hard as that might be to believe at times), you can become emotionally detached from the hurt you feel when they lash out. That doesn’t mean you have to accept the hurt, it means you don’t have to take it to heart.

Arguments with your spouse hurt so much because you’re physically and emotionally close to each other — you have a connection. Like everything else in life, your connection is both positive and negative. The positives of your connection are obvious. The negatives include the devastation you feel in the aftermath of an argument.

By selectively choosing to practice a little emotional detachment the next time you find yourself in the beginnings of an epic battle, you’ll avoid some of those potholes on your road to "happily ever after."

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Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach. Her writing on marriage, divorce, and co-parenting has appeared on MSN, Yahoo! & eHarmony among others.