Most couple fights are not fights at all; they're one-sided shout fests. Lots of thunder and lightning may be going on, but these "battles" are more displays of shared pain and hopelessness than anything else.
The noisy partner has lost any hope of getting what s/he wants which, more than anything else, is engagement. S/he is typically beyond much caring about what she says or how she says it. S/he doesn't expect to succeed at communication. She settles instead for angry self-expression.
The partner who is the target doesn't respond, because doing so will only make matters worse. What s/he says won't be respected, s/he feels, and the saying of it will only incense the other partner more. S/he just sits there and takes it, knowing that no matter how awful the harangue, it will eventually come to an end.
Very sad: The partner who wants contact gets none. The partner who hates conflict has no end of it.
Now a real dispute –where both people let off steam, get to say where they're at and get listened to and taken seriously –that's another story entirely.
Is it possible to have an argument that doesn't make matters worse and actually feels good? Definitely yes. Read next week's blog entry.