It can be useful to think of an argument like an onion. The outer layer is what you’re speaking about, while the deeper layers beneath represent the issues beneath this.
In other words, sometimes what we argue about is only a symptom of what’s going wrong, not the cause.
For example, Sam gets into an argument with his partner about whether they do their fair share of the household chores. On the surface, the argument may seem to be about something small, but it could also tap into wider feelings about how well supported Sam feels in the relationship generally.
It may also remind him of other situations when he has felt let down and unsupported by other people in his life. For Sam’s partner, the argument may tap into deeper worries about how controlling they feel Sam can be.
If you find you and your partner argue frequently, or about the same kinds of things a lot, it can be a good idea to think about what’s really causing the conflict. Are you arguing about what you think you’re arguing about – or are there other things going on the relationship that frustrate or worry you?
You may want to consider other influences too: have there been any recent changes in your lives that may have put extra pressure on either of you? This could be something like a bereavement, starting a new family, moving house, financial problems, work pressures or just a reaching a relationship milestone such as reaching a big birthday.
Maybe you have been spending less quality time together than before? Has there been an incident that one or both of you is struggling to get over? Did you use to argue less? And if so, why do you think that is?
Seeing past your emotions and trying to look at the wider context of the situation can be a great way of getting to the bottom of what’s going on.