Arguments In A Relationship —Types, Frequency, And How To Handle Them

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arguments in a relationship

They say never go to bed mad. So, my partner and I stay up in bed and argue. Sometimes vociferously. Sometimes calmly. It depends on how late in the night it is and how hangry we are. Arguments in relationships don’t necessarily indicate you’re in troubled waters. It simply means two people are preventing a bigger fight from happening by solving the smaller ones. We have all kinds of fights, ranging from ‘what’s for dinner’ fights to ‘who’ll do the dishes’ fights to ‘too much technology is getting in the way of our quality time’ fights.

My partner once taunted me after an argument and said that I would rather lose my sleep than lose a fight. I admit, I need to allow a conflict to breathe till the next day sometimes before jumping to resolve it. But it’s good to argue and let it all out (whenever you’re both ready) because when you stop arguing in a relationship, it means that you have stopped caring. Joseph Grenny, the co-author of the New York Times bestseller Crucial Conversations, writes that couples who argue together, stay together. The problem begins when you start avoiding those arguments.  

We’re here to help you understand why arguments are important in a relationship, in consultation with counselor Nishmin Marshall, who specializes in offering counseling for loveless marriages, abusive marriages, boredom, fights, and sexual problems. She says, “Arguing is just another vexed version of putting your point across. When couples fight, it brings clarity. It helps them understand each other’s perspective.”

Types Of Argument Styles

Do couples fight? Yes. More often than you might think. Little arguments in relationships are perfectly normal. However, there are different ways in which people argue and no two people argue in the same manner. This is based on their attachment style, emotional intelligence, and their fight-flight-or-freeze response. There are 4 different types of argument styles in relationships:

1. Attacking style

Motivated by frustration, vexation, and anger, this argument style is all about pointing out all the wrongs the other partner has done. This argument takes place when one partner doesn’t know how to control anger in a relationship. The argument can turn aggressive and this is all about blaming one person. Some of the examples are: 

  • “You always leave the wet towel on the bed”
  • “You don’t do your share of the kitchen work”
  • “You never take the trash out”
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2. Defensive style

This type of argument in a relationship happens when the person being blamed for something acts like a victim. Or they may start defending themselves by pointing out the shortcomings and flaws in the other person. For example: 

  • “I would have taken the trash out had you done the dishes tonight”
  • “You knew I’m busy, so why couldn’t you just remind me to do it? I would have done it. Why is it so hard for you to remind me every day?”
  • “Can you not blame me for once?”

3. Withdrawal style 

You are either the withdrawer or the one trying to push the argument to make your point. If you are the former, then you’re likely to look for ways to avoid arguing. It shows you have a conflict-avoidant personality and you will try to maintain peace. If you are the latter, then you are hell-bent on putting your point across. 

Related Reading: 11 Signs Of Low Self-Esteem Behaviors In A Relationship

4. Open style

How to have a healthy arguments in a relationship? Try having an open-style argument. This is one of the most healthy ways of arguing with a partner. You are open and considerate of the entire situation. You are not fixated on your perspective or trying to prove the other person wrong. 

7 Top Reasons Why Couples Fight 

Nishmin says, “Couple fights are not unhealthy. When you speak out about what’s wrong, your significant other may start respecting you even more for voicing your concerns. When you hold the grudge inside you and make the other partner think that whatever they do doesn’t get to you, they will start taking you for granted.” That being said, not all fights and arguments in a relationship are created equal. Some are more toxic than others. To help you differentiate between healthy from the unhealthy, let’s take a look at the types, reasons, and causes of relationship arguments:

1. Fighting over finances

Couples arguing about money is nothing new. This is one of the types of fights in relationships that is timeless. If you two live together and have decided to manage your finances together, then such fights are inevitable. If both partners are willing to solve this issue and plan a budget list without making one another feel bad about being reckless spenders, then you are on the right track. 

2. Fighting about the same thing repeatedly

If you keep fighting about the same thing again and again, chances are you aren’t even trying to understand the other person’s perspective. You both are adamant that one of you is right and the other is wrong. Such repeated fights in a relationship can turn chronic if they are not addressed properly. If you’ve found yourself wondering, how much arguing is normal in a relationship, chances are you’re clashing a little too often, perhaps because your issues have already turned chronic. 

3. Arguing over chores

Why do married couples fight? Household chores is what causes arguments in a relationship most of the time. This is definitely a burning topic between couples. Because when there is an imbalance in the division of labor at home, it can lead to many fights and ugly confrontations. It’s because one partner is too self-involved, oblivious, or lazy to do their share of work. 

According to research conducted on the connection between household work and sexual satisfaction, it was found that when male partners reported making a fair contribution to housework, the couple experienced more frequent sexual encounters. Clearly, being married doesn’t guarantee romance and desire.

4. Arguments related to family

This is one of the common couple fights. The arguments could be about anything – your partner disliking your family or you feeling like your partner doesn’t prioritize you as much as they prioritize their family. Family connections run deep. Hence these arguments can’t be avoided. This is one of the possible relationship troubles and you will have to talk to each other and find a way to work through it.

5. Arguments triggered by trust issues

Constant fighting in a relationship due to suspicion can genuinely damage the foundation of your love. If suspicion, lack of trust, or betrayal has seeped through the relationship, you may end up arguing all the time. It can become difficult to go back to the way things were in your relationship. Trust, once broken, is very difficult to rebuild. But know that with dedication, honesty, and love, nothing is impossible. When you don’t know how to deal with mistrust, it can make your partner regularly withdraw emotionally.

Related Reading: Top 9 Tips To Build Trust In Relationships

6. Couples fight over lifestyle choices 

What causes arguments in a relationship? Lifestyle choices. If one loves to party and the other one is a homebody, then these fights are bound to happen. The introverted partner who doesn’t like to go out much may feel pressured to do things contrary to their nature and needs. This will make them feel bad about themselves. The extroverted partner, on the other hand, may feel like they are unable to go out with their partner as much as they’d like to, and that could be hard to handle for them as well. You both have to compromise and find a middle ground. 

7. Parenting differences

This is also one of the common marital problems faced by couples who don’t know how to split parenting chores. They are also divided on how to raise their children and how to take care of them. If you don’t fix this problem soon, your constant arguments and parenting differences could affect the child. It could create insensitive situations where we ask our children to take sides.

How Much Arguing Is Normal In A Relationship?

To know how much is too much fighting in a relationship, we reached out to Ridhi Golechha, (M.A. Psychology), who specializes in counseling for loveless marriages, breakups, and other relationship issues. She says, “If yelling occasionally occurs, then there is nothing to worry about. Everyone loses their calm once in a while. However, if you fight repeatedly, you need to let your partner know that these fights aren’t doing the relationship any good.

“If you don’t tell your partner that one of their actions is bothering you, they will never know. Your partner is not a mind reader to know what’s going on inside your head. A lack of communication only causes anger to build up on both sides. This can result in constant fighting in a relationship, which can be exhausting. You might even question if it is worth draining your energy over. But isn’t that what relationships are all about? You fight, apologize, forgive, and kiss each other. Not because you love fighting. Because you want to be with this person despite difficult times.

“However, that doesn’t mean you can start arguing anywhere and anytime. A mindful argument is very important. You need to pick the right time to voice your concerns. If you are only fighting, bickering, complaining, and criticizing each other, then it’s unhealthy, and sooner or later it will take a toll on your mental health.” Couples who argue focusing only on the fights and trying to prove the other person wrong, without figuring out how to stop constant arguing in a relationship, tend to drift apart.

Here are a few parameters that can help you assess when your clashes have veered into unhealthy territory:

  • When you start disrespecting the other person
  • When you start verbally abusing them
  • When you are not fighting for the relationship but against the relationship 
  • When you give ultimatums and threaten to leave them 

Related Reading: Top 35 Pet Peeves In Relationships

Pros And Cons Of Relationship Arguments 

Arguments early in a relationship means the two of you haven’t understood each other enough and are struggling to adapt to the post-honeymoon phase. But is it normal to fight every day in a relationship? Well, that depends on the kind of fights you’re having. Conflict can be an opportunity to learn more about the other person, heal, and grow together. Most people assume that it’s unhealthy when couples fight. But that’s hogwash. It brings more honesty into the relationship. However, as we said before, not all arguments are created equal and fights among couples have their share of pros and cons, which include: 

Pros of arguments between couples:

  • When couples argue, they learn about each other’s and their own flaws, differences of opinions, and ways of thinking. It brings them closer by creating a deeper level of understanding. When you learn to manage and accept those differences, you will create a loving and peaceful relationship
  • Conflicts can make you stronger as a couple. When you resolve a fight with “I love you and I am glad we are talking about it,” it shows that you value your relationship more than your differences 
  • When you sincerely apologize after a fight, it instills a feeling of purity and wholesomeness. You feel good about yourself and your relationship

Cons of arguments between couples:

  • When couples who argue resort to criticism and blame games, they end up using the “You” phrases like “You always,” “You never,” and “You only”. Such phrases make the other person feel guilty and attacked, and hinders growth
  • When you don’t resolve an argument, you prolong the conflict. As a result, you feel angry, bitter, and hostile toward your partner
  • Repeatedly fighting over the same thing can drive you away from your partner. They will begin to avoid you in order to avoid the argument 

Dos And Don’ts While Arguing With Your Partner 

Is it normal to fight every day in a relationship? Responding to the question, a Reddit user says, “How often couples fight in a healthy relationship depends on how you define fighting and arguing in a relationship. Do all couples get into screaming matches? Probably not. Do all couples have disagreements from time to time? Yup. There are couples who argue more outwardly. Then there are couples who argue in a more passive-aggressive way. And then some couples just avoid problems. Every person handles and resolves conflict uniquely, so the conflict resolution strategies will also vary from couple to couple.”

Arguing couples should understand that there are a few rules of argument in a relationship. There are some dos and don’ts while handling conflicts. Here are some tips on how to fight in a relationship:

Always listen to their side of the storyDon’t keep focusing on complaints; keep your approach solution-oriented
Always use “I” statements to get your point acrossCouples arguing should never use hyperbolic terms like “always” and “never”
Always remember that you are both on the same side. You are not fighting against each other but fighting together against a problem Don’t make assumptions, criticize, or drag family members into your problems
Listen empatheticallyNever downplay an issue or invalidate your partner’s concerns
Have cooling-off periodsDon’t hit below the belt or target their weaknesses
Show physical affection if you’re both okay with it. Touch them even when you are having an argumentDon’t give ultimatums or threaten to leave the relationship
Own up to your mistakes and apologizeOnce a conflict has been resolved, don’t bring it up in future arguments

Why Arguments Are Healthy 

“Why do we argue? Is it healthy to fight in relationships?” These questions may weigh on your mind after every argument with your SO. Ridhi says, “Irrespective of the causes of arguments, couples argue because they love each other and something one person did or said is bothering the other. You can’t let it go because then it becomes avoidance. It’s indifference that’s unhealthy, whereas relationship arguments are completely healthy because you are not sweeping the problems under the rug. You are showing you care and you want to fix the problems. These arguments don’t mean you are headed onto the divorce path.

“Is it normal to fight every day in a relationship? Yes, if the aim is to build a strong relationship. No, if all you want to do is vent your anger and criticize your partner. With the help of these little arguments in a relationship, you get to learn about each other’s triggers, traumas, and insecurities. You get to know each other’s value systems better. Arguments are also discussions between two people who aren’t on the same page but they are on the same team.”

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8 Ways To Handle Arguments In A Relationship

The purpose of any argument is to find the problem and cure it. When couples argue constantly, they often forget their ultimate destination, which is to find a solution. ‘How much is too much fighting’ becomes a crucial question when all you do is bicker and argue, and don’t know how to let go of resentment long after the conflict has been resolved. If the objective is to win an argument with your spouse, then you’ve already lost. Here are some tips on how to handle fights with your partner that can help arguing couples resolve conflicts more skillfully:

1. Take responsibility for your actions 

If your partner is hurt because of your actions, accept it. The longer you act like you are a saint and nothing you could do could be wrong, the more danger your relationship is in. Relationship satisfaction can’t be achieved when one person thinks they are always right and the other person should always bend to their will. It’s high time that you apologize for your mistakes. Avoid arguments in a relationship and take responsibility for your wrongdoings. This is one of the relationship positivity steps you can take to improve the quality of your love.

2. Learn to compromise 

Knowing how to compromise is what ultimately leads to relationship satisfaction. Even while fighting in relationships, learn to compromise. You can’t have your way every single time. If you don’t want to have the same fight and the same argument every other day, it’s best you compromise once in a while. Here are some tips to compromise in a marriage or relationship:

  • Stop fighting over dirty dishes and split up household chores for some time
  • In the meanwhile, take interest in each other’s hobbies
  • Avoid arguments in a relationship by clearly communicating emotional, financial, and physical expectations and needs
  • Spend quality time together for more relationship satisfaction
  • Make eye contact regularly with them and try to communicate your love without words once in a while
  • Talk to each other the moment it starts feeling like “sacrifice”

3. Take a moment to breathe 

When you are in a heated argument, don’t force-feed your partner all your thoughts and perspectives. Do that when both of you are in a calm state. If your partner is yelling, you don’t have to yell back at them just to prove that you have a voice and that you know how to take a stand. These things will just add fuel to the fire. When your partner engages in a destructive arguing style, then take a cooling off period. Walk away from the situation. 

Related Reading: 19 Examples Of Healthy Boundaries In Relationships

4. Don’t force them to fight 

It’s good and mature of your partner if they know they won’t be able to handle the conflict and might end up doing/saying something they will regret. It shows how self-aware they are. So if during one of these rage-fueled fights, your partner decides to take a moment to breathe, then let them. Upon your partner’s request/gesture created for such moments, let them have a bit of alone time, and don’t chase them screaming at the tip of your tongue.

5. No name calling

When you and your partner are having annoying fights all the time, then it’s probably because neither of you is solving the situation at hand while adding more problems to the melting pot. Just make sure that whenever you are arguing with your partner, you don’t use derogatory words against them because name-calling in a relationship severely damages the foundation of your love and affection. Some other things to keep in mind include:

  • Don’t pass sarcastic comments 
  • Don’t take a dig at their appearance or point fingers at your partner’s character 
  • Don’t use their vulnerability against them 
  • Don’t tell them to “shut up” and act like a know-it-all
  • Don’t assume anything 
  • Avoid passing condescending statements 
  • Don’t try to patronize your partner 

6. Don’t argue about several things at once

This is one of the reasons that positive interactions decrease between partners. Don’t fight altogether at once. Ridhi suggests focusing your energy on just one argument instead of fighting about all the things that are wrong in your dynamic. Furthermore, once an argument has been put to rest, don’t resurrect it in another argument

7. Remember that you are on the same team

It doesn’t matter what causes arguments in a relationship. What matters is how you confront these arguments as a “team.” Always remember that you aren’t fighting each other. You are fighting together against a problem. When you change your argument styles in relationships and fight together as a team, it’s one of the ways to have healthy arguments in a relationship

8. Don’t stonewall your partner after a fight 

Researchers discovered that stonewalling is also a form of emotional abuse and it takes a toll on both men’s and women’s mental health. This mental health can also impact physical health. You will develop stiff necks, have frequent headaches, and shoulder pain. So, if you give your partner the silent treatment after a fight, then it means you are deliberately dragging the fight even after sorting things out. You are just trying to punish them by stonewalling them. Don’t show your partner negligence by not caring for your partner’s overall health.

Key Pointers

  • Arguments in a relationship are healthy because it shows your willingness to work on the relationship
  • Certain arguments are important to the sustenance of a relationship, as they allow you to air out your differences and learn to find a middle ground
  • When either partner resorts to mental, verbal, or physical abuse, arguments turn toxic and unhealthy. If you find yourself in a similar situation, know that it’s okay to walk away from a relationship to protect yourself

Just because you are fighting a lot doesn’t mean your relationship is headed to a dead end. Relationships are all about finding funny moments even when the two of you are fuming with rage. When handled them right, they can help improve your compatibility as a couple. If your fights are becoming overwhelming and nothing seems to alleviate the negativity, you must consider couple’s counseling to find the root cause of your problems. If you’re looking for professional help, Bonobology’s panel of experienced counselors is only a click away.  

This article has been updated in March 2023.

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