Home 9 Marriage 9 What Is A High-Conflict Marriage?

Every marriage has its ups and downs, and it’s not uncommon to disagree from time to time. However, there’s a difference between an occasional spat and the continuous disorder accompanying a high-conflict marriage. What is a high-conflict marriage? While there’s no legal definition, a high-conflict marriage is typically characterized by constant fighting, high tension in the home, and selfish behavior on the part of one or both spouses. 

Are you in a high-conflict marriage? Are you trying to get out of it? You may need a powerful Dallas divorce attorney to help you out. High-conflict marriages often end in high-conflict divorces, and this isn’t something you want to go through alone.

Is There a Legal Term For High-Conflict Marriage?

While there are several defining characteristics of a high-conflict marriage, there isn’t a specific legal term or statute that defines high-conflict marriage. However, many high-conflict marriages may turn abusive, which is illegal. Texas law specifies several forms of family and spousal abuse, which may be more likely to occur in a high-conflict marriage.

If you worry that your spouse may turn abusive or you worry about the safety of your children, it’s essential to seek legal advice right away. A knowledgeable Dallas family law attorney can help connect you to mental health professionals, such as therapists and psychiatrists. They can also advise you of your rights, including whether you qualify for an order of protection and, if so, how to obtain one.

Even if your marriage isn’t abusive, if there’s constant conflict and tension, you may be thinking about getting a divorce. An attorney experienced in high-conflict divorce can help.

What Does a High-Conflict Marriage Look Like?

Many therapists make a distinction between a high-conflict marriage and an abusive one. The conflict in a high-conflict marriage is typically bi-directional. That is, both parties are responsible for the bad behavior and fighting.

You may be in a high-conflict marriage if your relationship has several of the following characteristics:

  • You and your spouse fight a lot. It may feel like one fight begins before the last one even ends. You may have regular blow-outs or constantly bicker with each other.
  • The fighting is intense. All couples argue, but the fighting should not be so intense that you feel dips of despair or fury or unjustly accuse your spouse of betrayal. Some people feel disconnected from the fight, lost in anger, and “not themselves.”
  • Old hurts and wounds are repeatedly brought up. The fights may start over one conflict or difference of opinion but quickly become more. Old betrayals or offenses are brought up, often because the couple never healed from them. Often, it’s hard to determine what the fight is about because both spouses bring up pain from the past.
  • Fights go from 0-60 and are hard to resolve. From one nasty comment to a blow-up – that’s a characteristic of a high-conflict marriage. Both spouses not only contribute to the fight but also are also unable to resolve the issues. Neither spouse wants to give in and let the other “win.” So, instead of focusing on healing, the couple often fights until they run out of steam.
  • Fighting seems inevitable. Anything you do to de-escalate the situation seems to make it worse. You may try saying sorry, but your spouse isn’t having it. You can’t figure out how to resolve the issue or makeup with your spouse.
  • Both partners say awful things to each other. Foul name-calling, mocking the other person, and mean personal attacks characterize all your fights. When you fight, it’s all-or-nothing. For example, “You never admit you’re wrong,” or “You’re so stupid, you can’t get anything right.” Because the attacks are personal, it’s hard to resolve the arguments fully.

How Do You Deal With a High Conflict Spouse?

Some couples may respond well to therapy. Others may have damaged the relationship too much to heal and so seek divorce.

To preserve a high-conflict marriage, you may start by considering your own actions and emotions. High-conflict marriages involve both spouses engaging in nasty behaviors. You may benefit from individual therapy if you feel constantly angry or cannot resolve a difference of opinion with your spouse without fighting and hurling insults. Look for a therapist who specializes in helping people with anger issues or those who are in high-conflict marriages.

If both partners engage in individual therapy and learn how to manage conflict and their emotions, they may be ready to start marriage counseling. Sometimes, though, the best option for the mental well-being of both people is divorce.

Divorcing in a High-Conflict Marriage

Unfortunately, ending a high-conflict marriage can be almost as tricky as remaining in one. Many spouses in high-conflict marriages may turn even more vicious during divorce. Some may enjoy making the process as stressful and complicated as possible. If you’re constantly going to court, or your spouse is creating legal drama to complicate the divorce, you should get legal help – fast. You have legal rights.

Some high-conflict divorces, in which both parties can’t compromise and both are contributing to the contention, may turn into post-separation legal abuse. In these cases, one party may instigate excessive, spurious legal trouble for the other. In such a case, a family law attorney who can spot the signs of legal abuse and knows how to counter these tactics can help preserve your emotional well-being and get through the divorce.

Is it Time to End Your High-Conflict Marriage? We Can Help

Do you need help leaving a high-conflict marriage? Are you in the middle of a contentious divorce? The experienced family law attorneys at Balekian Hayes PLLC can help you explore your legal options. Even if you aren’t ready to file for divorce, we can describe the process and your choices under the Texas Family Code, allowing you to make an informed decision that protects your future. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation with one of our family law attorneys in Dallas, Texas, to learn more about your rights.

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