Skip to content
Guest Thinkers

What Couples Really Argue About

Couples don’t fight about what they identify in surveys: money, sex, raising the kids, in-laws, or housework. Lovers fight when they believe their partners don’t care about how they feel.

What’s the Big Idea?

How much pull does the subconscious mind have in personal relationships? When asked, we can probably verbalize our desires and intentions, but are they commensurate with what we really desire and intend? Ignoring the influence of the subconscious—motivations we may be unaware of because they come from ancient biological impulses no longer immediately relevant to our modern lives—risks misunderstanding what a disagreement is truly about and can sabotage our response to another person’s feelings even though we mean well. 

What’s the Most Recent Development?

“Disconnection occurs most frequently in intimate relationships when fear or anxiety in one causes a sense of inadequacy in the other,” says Steven Stosny, Ph.D. This inadequacy arises when a partner’s response to the other’s feelings is insufficient to sooth the unpleasant emotions. Often to protect against feeling inadequate, a partner may turn aggressive, deepening the disconnect. Stosny says this complex interplay of emotion comes from tribal times when the more attuned women would alert the more protective men to defend the homestead.


Up Next