It's high time you worried more about HOW you're talking to each other than WHAT you're talking about. If you can't make your partner feel safe and secure in the atmosphere of a difficult conversation, or they you, then you can forget about feeling the love or making any real headway on the subject.
You or your partner may consciously agree to agree that being right, winning the fight, or coming out on top standing over their partner's bruised soul is not the goal in the conversation. Duh, how obvious, you say? Tell you something you don't know? You may think you would rather have a love connection, mutuality, and cooperation between you over being right, but that is not what your primitive brain is thinking when it feels threatened. It is thinking, "Yup, it is time to kill or be killed. And, damn it, I'm not going to be killed!!!" That is when winning is the sought after door prize and leaving your partner as road kill becomes beside the point.
No need to feel ashamed, though. If you're a recovering couple and trying to be close and yet separate, trust me, you are struggling with negotiating your differences. And if you aren't struggling with it, then you aren't really sober or close or living in the same house. Unless you are seeing a great shrink who is showing you the ropes on how to back your primitive brains off each other, then you are having some degree of difficulty with this. You should probably test the truth of what I'm suggesting so it doesn't just seem like a bunch of hooey!
Choose a Subject: Sit down with your partner and pick a touchy subject that you always fight about. Try to talk about it without having your blood pressure rise. See, you can't.
Work Through It: Agree that you are going to band together against that awful fight or flight reaction interfering with you being able to talk about difficult or opposing subjects. Calm it down. Do not move it forward until you both are in a calm, and non-threatened posture.
Keep With It: Try it again. Oops. There goes that darn blood pressure going up again. Okay, now stop again. Breathe. Lower your blood pressure, calm down, and try again. This is a way to regulate and re-regulate yourselves so that you can negotiate tough stuff.
I promise you it gets easier as you practice it more often. It only feels like you're being skinned alive for a while, and then you get used to it. Or, you can always go back to your old way of fighting and go 'round and 'round the mulberry bush until you decide you are ready to try it my way. I'll just wait here. No hurry.
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