Why Facts Create Fights in Your Relationship

Facts inform, but emotions connect. In conflicts, focusing on the relevance and feelings rather than mere facts can open doors to understanding and intimacy.

Living in a scientifically minded culture, facts have a special status to us. They’re objective, they’re accurate, and they’re safe. Facts are powerful. Look at all the technological wonders we benefit from.  All of them came about because of someone’s intense commitment to facts. When you put the right number of facts together in the right order, like the alchemists of old, you turn straw into gold – or, at least an iPhone.

So, it’s no wonder when you get into a conflict with your spouse the first thing you do is throw facts at them. “Why did you move my books? They don’t go there!”, “How could you share that about me on Facebook?”, “I’m sick of you being late. This is the last straw!” If you have the frame of mind, you might even throw in a rationale, the handmaiden of facts. Generally, it will have the flavor of moral philosophy. It’s not right, it’s not proper, it’s not correct. All of your facts and rationales are true but they are also not the point.

Facts are powerful but they are not compelling. Facts can transform the world, but they do not move the human heart. When you think about how you love your spouse, it’s not a fact. You only run to facts because their power can keep you feeling safer in a conflict. Ironically, they do the exact opposite as the fight drags on. What matters, especially in a fight, is the relevance of what happened and not the facts of the case. “When you moved my books it felt like you were disregarding an important part of me. Those books mean a great deal to me.” “When you shared that post on Facebook it made me feel so ashamed and embarrassed.” “When you didn’t show up on time, it made me feel like I’m not important to you.” None of these are facts but they are how you feel. They are the soul behind why you’re so upset. They are relevant.

By not communicating the relevance and sticking to facts a door for connection is closed. Worse, your spouse will probably be happy to follow your lead and throw their set of facts back at you. Instead of showing vulnerability with a chance that the fight will bring you closer, you get a good ol’ fashioned brawl. However, if you stick with the relevance and tolerate how uncomfortable it is to share yourself then you give your partner the chance to show they care about you. And, that’s all you really want, anyway. 

Yonasan Bender, LSW graduated from Hebrew University’s School of Social Work. He has his psychotherapy practice at The Place: The Jerusalem Centre for Emotional Wellbeing. To share your thoughts, experiences, questions, or a different perspective, you can reach Yonasan Bender at 053-808-0435 or email him by clicking HERE. To learn more about him and his work, click HERE.

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At The Place, male and female therapists work independently or as a team to explore sensitive issues and facilitate positive change for individuals, couples and families from all sectors of the community. Some of our specialties include emotional eating, grief counseling, internet addiction, phobias, anxiety & OCD, childhood challenges, premarital counseling, couples therapy and intimacy issues, postpartum support, personality disorders, psychiatric care, and more. Connect with a caring professional in person at our comfortable Jerusalem offices, or by video, phone, and text. We’re here for you.

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