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After the Fight‘ was originally posted on our member’s site, this version has been revised and updated 22/3/2021.

By Kim Cooper

You are sitting alone after a big fight. Nasty things have been said, plans have been spoiled. Apart and at odds with each other you are both unbalanced and in emotional pain.

A Guide to Human Love

You feel desperate to see your partner again and hear them apologize for all the terrible things they have said and done.

“What do I say now?”

You ask yourself or anyone who will listen.

“How do I get them to come home?”

You reach for the phone or walk to the next room; ready to try and convince them how wrong they are NOT to care about how hurt you feel.

Although your heart wants to make up . . .  just to prove that hurt—and how much you deserve sympathy—your head tries to convince them just how awful and wrong they have been.

You know this isn’t likely to work and will probably cause them to hang up, but because you feel so bad, you don’t censure yourself and you let your head rule.

When your convincing talk and blame don’t work, you may start crying or threaten to hurt yourself or even get angry and start yelling again.

Starting the fight all over again may feel better than feeling their love has gone cold.

Or perhaps your partner is no-where to be found, and you turn to alcohol, drugs or cigarettes for comfort.

If you can relate to any of this, I want to step into your life and show you why, at this point, you should stop doing what you are doing.

Put down the phone. Go back to your own part of the house. Put down the bottle of alcohol or that cigarette. Or if you are out drowning your sorrows—make the decision it’s time to go home.”

I know it is probably the last thing you want to hear—but this is the point where you can most quickly create positive change for yourself and begin to create a better life.

‘Convincing’ and acting desperate are only going to hurt you.

I hear it all the time that people think they cannot control these desperate feelings. I’m here to show you just how wrong this belief is.

You may simply have not reached rock bottom yet but my question to you is:

How bad will things need to get before you see it is you who is going to need to help yourself?”

How bad will it get before you see what I am describing here? I have had a woman access our material from jail—having been wrongly accused by her husband—before she realised it was her and no one else who would need to find the strength to change her life.

This reminds me of a book my cousin bought for my children called Hatchet. It was a story about a boy, marooned on an island, who is soon forced to realise that tears and self-pity will not save him. His desperate situation makes him see he has no choice but to dig deep in himself and find the strength to provide for his own self-preservation.

  • How bad is it going to get before you make this same realization?
  • Do you have the strength to change old habits that are not working now?

You desperately want your partner to change—but what you need first is more emotional control.

How can you expect anyone to do what is good for you if you cannot do what is good for yourself?”

And once you have control of yourself, I want you to dig deeper still.

Write down what upset you and be satisfied to put that aside until later.

Decide what you need to do to take care of yourself (and your kids if you have them)—and get things back on track—until conditions in your home become civil again.

If your partner has stormed off, make plans to be self-sufficient when they return. Because after the fight they will also need time and space to get their life back on track too.

This, of course, is not all you will need if you want a better life. But it is the start.

The start of you learning to trust your ability to take care of yourself.  To stop letting your need for someone to take care of your sadness and hurt get in the way of your security and goals.

You may have reason to be upset with your partner, but you need to start dealing with that like an adult and not leave your emotional balance up to anyone else.

My bet is your partner may have trouble taking care of themselves at the best of times, let alone knowing how they should take care of you when you are an emotional mess.”

Because what is it you want? To feel better? Or someone to feed your sadness and self-pity instead? If you want to feel better, the truth is that only you can give that to yourself.

If instead, you want someone to feel sorry for you, I wonder if you find emotionally needy people attractive? Maybe you can see now that this is what might actually be driving love away in your life?

Or maybe it is the other way around and after the fight, it is your partner who won’t leave you alone to find your emotional balance again? If so, maybe it’s time to tell them the truth. That you love them but if they won’t take charge of their own happiness, there is no way you are ever going to be able to make things work.

You can also suggest that they take some time out to be kind to themselves and perhaps give them a copy of 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence.

A Guide to Human Love

If you leave, also make sure you tell them where you are going and when you will be back. This is just basic courtesy and unless you want the fight to start again it is important you stick to what you say.

This is tough – but important work on the road to change.

. . .

How bad did it get with me? It is embarrassing to talk about, but even psychosomatic illness wasn’t enough to show me I was heading in the wrong direction. Back then I would have argued my illness wasn’t psychosomatic, but now I know that it was. I remember believing that being sick would make Steve love and want to take care of me. Did it work? No. Because if you think about it, being sick and needy really isn’t that attractive.

Once I saw this, I stopped longing for Steve to take care of me and started taking care of myself instead. My health soon improved and has become my own responsibility now.

I wonder if you know that codependence can be fatal? Many people die from psychosomatic illness, subconsciously making themselves sick trying to gain love and attention. In my experience just about all codependents suffer from some form of chronic illness.

Stop reaching for the phone. Stop making yourself sick. Stop reaching for things that will hurt you. Instead, try giving yourself the love and care you really need.

Let’s think about it now . . .

What is the first thing you are going to do from now on when you feel upset? What can you do for yourself  to get back on track?  What actions can you take that will make you happy and also be good for you?”

Because if you can’t find a stronger connection with your own inner calm and happiness, no one else is going to build you the life you want.

Keeping a light heart and your daily goals on track—especially after the fight—is the kind of strength that will be most attractive on the long road ahead.

Your state of mind is the most valuable thing in your life; don’t leave that in anyone else’s hands.

You are going to need all 4 pillars to build a new life—and that includes strong boundaries—but the message here today is where it all starts.

Your new emotional self-control will also be a positive model for your partner. Apologies to each other won’t fix the problem. What you both need is progress in emotional self-discipline. We are all nice when we are happy. The only time can demonstrate self-control is when you have been emotionally derailed.


For fifteen years, the Coopers have offered themselves as humble guides and mentors, helping families avoid cynicism and chaos. Leading the way as peer support specialists whose own family has traversed love's dangerous terrain.
Taking you to that place inside yourself that you can't go by yourself. Helping you get back in touch with the power of love within you to restore the sanity in your marriage whether you stay or leave.

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. If I look back, I needed tremendous inner healing and spiritual regrouping and “locating my identity,” to be able to get to finding a point of secure and fulfilling “inner calm” ~ a place that I could find and regroup to, at will,…

  2. So it’s official now: Kim’s got a crystal ball she gazes us all in. That’s how she just sends us the right article on the very day we need it. Forever grateful… What a long way to go though

  3. Really!! When you are so caught up in someone else’s emotional, physical and mental dysfunction then you begin a spiral. If another person is not treating the way you treat yourself then be willing to let them go, to live the life they want to live. Live your life the best way you see and want. Treat you the way you want to be treated.

  4. Ta Kim
    Faith and feet can also be coupled to what your insights.
    Someone may need a moral energy that Christ’s spirit enables
    His Word (minus the religion) is a good mirror for self reflection but, not any one thing is ever enough and until and unless you go ‘on and through’ all you need to, with a personal creative process, your just playing with yourself. And that’s vanity and a further loss of your integrity.

  5. A fascinating read and full of useful insight. For me I did not learn as a child to nurture myself because I had a controlling and dominant mother who also did not value me (my brother was her golden child). Left a legacy of hurt and low self worth so I was a prime candidate for codependent relationships and addictive behaviours.
    About 5 or 6 years ago I came across your website and found it so helpful. That, along with other work on my behaviours, has allowed me to change.
    I freed my self from my relationship with a narcissist as I understood he was not willing to change and I could never heal if I stayed in the relationship.
    I am very happy now; two years ago I remarried to an honest, loving man and it has been a revelation. Other areas of my life have improved too as I have learned to know and appreciate who I am; to be secure in myself.
    Thank you for your part in my journey.

  6. TheThing that drives me absolutely berserk is when someone doesn’t hear what is said. This becomes a Reality distortion which generally makes me the villain. Appears to be gaslighting but I’m pretty sure that the psychological distortion the filters in his head or actually causing him to hear things that are not being said .

    For example be quiet turns into shut up . you’re acting like an idiot turns into you’re an asshole and then after the content is misunderstood I am accused of being out of control.

    1. Yes, that can be quite frustrating. What Kim advises us here is to NOT go berserk (not saying that you do). Most likely, they know they are twisting the truth to serve their purposes, which is to elicit a reaction that makes you appear to be as out of control as they are. Listen to Kim. It is very sound advice.

      1. Yes this hapens to me as well. Very frustrsting and painful. The more collective I try to be with him , the more crap he makes up about me.

    2. I totally hear you! This is very hard. It’s taken me decades to realize that my words are interpreted as personal attacks. I say “I feel uneasy when you follow a car so closely at high speeds.” It is interpreted as “You’re saying I’m a lousy driver. Who are you to criticize my driving!!##”

  7. I have been recovering from an abusive relationship where I was codependent and enabling. I know If I had set healthy limits and taken responsibility for myself foremost, I would be in much better shape emotionally, financially, socially, and mentally. I am getting better at being kind to myself and doing the things that are good for me. I am getting better at trying to make my life peaceful, joyful, thankful, and interesting. I am working at being able to trust myself to carry out my goals and stop being so impulsive. I am working at not being so hurt when people don’t give me what I want and need and am able to be OK, not so dependent on people. I am working on being realistic in my life about being thoughtful of myself and others, able to self-soothe and have a positive outlook even though I have had many disappointments. My faith and belief in the truths of the Bible have helped me put my faith and need for love and security in God instead of people. It has helped me be able to give and love deliberately, myself and others in healthy ways that don’t leave me with the short end of the stick. I am a work in progress. I know I have a long way to go and I am trying to be patient with myself and give myself a break. When I get down on myself I have to back up and be kind, because shame and blame don’t work. It’s not about performance anymore. It’s about love.

  8. Thank you,Kim for these great insights and encouragement! I need the cheering on. It does start first with me, my work, my responsibility first. Nothing will change for better, if I can’t stop and be self aware of how I respond, trigger to his negative behavior. Keeping my cool, respectful boundaries, building on the positive when possible and seeking the healing I need from my wounds from childhood are so important. And for me, my faith in Jesus to guide and help me along the way is key! And the support of wise women/men who have walked this road and are courageous in working to be the best version of themselves, despite the challenging circumstances they find themselves in.

  9. Every situation and couple can be a bit different. Although I certainly had to learn how to not take everything that is said by my husband as truth, his problem often is that I am self-sufficient because he has never wanted to have to take care of me. I have taken care of him, our children, our past ministry and our home and cars and that has proven to be an insecurity for him. I then put some of the responsibility on him and now he feels like I don’t care. I have stayed true to the Christian faith where he has picked up old vices again and so again it causes conflict. I am certain I don’t have a one of a kind man but I do have trouble relating to others at times. I have fortunately become very confident in who I am, and that has become the new problem.

    1. This is similar to my situation. I have been deliberate about building a healthy support system. He degrades me for this. It is hard.

  10. Thank you Kim for such an insight on responding to my own self conflict on what to do after a fight. I am a hurry up and fix it type of guy and have come to realize that things aren’t fixed my way and have to learn to give time for the other person to get their emotional state back under control which will also give myself the time to re-evaluate and understand what the fight was about and how to correct my own flaws and responses to be better at taking responsibility for my part. Thank you for this great read.

  11. I can see how I used to be in that reactive state almost all the time when my husband and I first married. It is relieving to see that I can be aware of that state of mind versus enslaved to it. One of mt biggest weaknesses was calling back, continuing to bring the issue up, and then circling back to trying to make him feel badly about it.
    My favorite part of this article is the conclusion, where the point is made that anyone can get along when they are happy, but it takes self discipline to learn to control yourself when you have been emotionally derailed (paraphrased). This reminds me of the first Scripture The Holy Spirit brought to my mind when I took my first step back toward my husband after our separation—-it was this text and I think it says in essence a very similar message as Kim’s conclusion:
    Matthew 5:43-48 New International Version (NIV)

    Love for Enemies
    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.“

  12. “How can I expect anyone to be good for me if I am not good to myself?” That statement really hit home. I prefer not to be with someone that treats me badly, but I allow myself to treat me badly. A lot of work to be done here…

  13. Hi kim.
    I had previously purchased your books and applied everything into my marriage. I started to set boundaries. Work on myself emotionally and physically, called the police when my husband hit me which he denied i couldnt press charges. and i also got my family to speak to his which he also lied to justify his actions. He actually became worst as he feels like he is loosing control of me. He tells me that i just need to improve in one particular area and when i do he finds something else to have reasons to fight. He even agreed to see marriage councelors to tell them how much work i need and made false accusations to the docks. He also hits my children and expects them to be perfect at all times. He hates the law because of the womens right in this country If you can please write back i would highly appreciate it.

    1. Hi Sam, I am sorry to hear the problems you are having. Dealing with the police is not easy. If you need them you need to follow the steps laid out in Back From the Looking Glass in detail. Do not wait until he hits you. Do exactly as the book explains. The DV unit will take you seriously. You should also go back through step 1 and read it carefully. It explains that getting family involved is usually a bad idea. This is not a simple situation you are in and you need to study and plan this carefully. He will not stop from using talk. One warning and action needs to be the rule.

  14. Great wisdom Kim. I learn lots from you. I have a husband with anger issues. Always talking in angry tones especially if I ask him a question. I noted that if I say 5 to 6 words in a question he will erupt. However last week it was one word – Pardon – which I said and caused him great anger. Always verbal anger, not physical, he gets full of self pity and goes into little boy mode. I think he has aspergers but after 30 years managed to see a doctor together who dismissed me and told me if my husband had it then it would have been diagnosed as a child. He says I have caused him 3 nervous breakdowns but he is his own worst enemy as he gets himself worked up about nothing – as I see it!

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