Help! I’m Afraid of Fighting With My Spouse


Are you afraid of fighting with your spouse?

Maybe you’re one of those people who’s hardwired to value harmony. You recoil at the thought of conflict, and avoid getting into an argument with anyone–especially the person you love most. The idea of fighting makes you feel insecure and fearful.

It can be scary to put your feelings out there when you’re upset. What if it changes your relationship in some fundamental way? What if your spouse becomes angry with you? What if the conflict escalates?

The thing is, there’s greater risk in holding your feelings inside and leaving issues unresolved. Silence creates a false sense of harmony and blocks true intimacy. So let’s talk about some ways you can ease into addressing conflicts with your spouse.

Instead of Saying, “Nothing,” Try a Different Approach

When your spouse asks what’s wrong, maybe your answer is immediately, “Nothing.”
That kind of response will actually frustrate your spouse, because deep down, they know something is wrong. And it’s difficult to be genuine and vulnerable with each other when you’re editing your own communication.

So let’s say you’re feeling frustrated or angry with your spouse, but you’re afraid to say something. Maybe you’re minimizing the issue, thinking it’s not a big enough deal to bring up. Or you might just be afraid to rock the boat.

The thing is, you’re not keeping the peace by staying silent – because you’re not at peace. But you also don’t have to dump all your unfiltered thoughts and feelings on your spouse either. It’s so important to speak up, but it takes some practice to get more comfortable.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Ease into the conversation.

Try easing into a difficult conversation by being honest, but asking for more time to process your thoughts. You could start out by saying something like, “You know, something has been bothering me, but I need to give it a little more thought before we talk about it.” This approach can give you a bit more time to think about how you want to communicate. It can also give your spouse an opportunity to ask questions and be open to feedback.

Write it all down before bringing it up.

Some people are better at expressing their thoughts in writing than through speaking. If you’re fearful of an escalating conversation, try writing a letter to your spouse. Writing gives you the mental clarity to say what you need to, and the time to truly process what you want to say. It’s a reflective activity that allows you to explore your feelings and sort them out before approaching your spouse.

Let your spouse know how you’re feeling.

If the fear of conflict is the main thing holding you back from talking about problems, you may need to talk to your spouse about that. It’s important to address the underlying issue that is keeping you from being open. This gives your spouse the opportunity to ease your mind and soothe your feelings. Ultimately, avoiding conflict will reinforce your fear and complicate the problems you need to solve.

Conflict Resolution Leads to a Closer Relationship

It may seem counterintuitive, but conflict can actually bring you and your spouse closer. Conflict resolution strengthens relationships. But you can’t resolve a problem if you don’t address it. Bringing up an issue can feel like a risk, but for the health of your marriage, it’s a risk worth taking.

If you can’t be completely honest with one another, your relationship will never be as deeply intimate as you’d like. Don’t spend the years secretly walking on eggshells, pretending nothing is wrong. Instead, start being more authentic, genuine, and honest about what you’re feeling. It will be scary at first, but you might be surprised at how relieved you feel afterward.

Need help navigating healthy conflict resolution? Our book, The Good Fight, is packed with tips for fighting well–and coming out on the other side stronger than ever. Check it out here.

Have you ever been afraid to fight with your spouse? How did you overcome that fear? Tell us your stories in the comments.

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