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

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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.

My partner once taunted me after an argument and said that I would rather lose my sleep than lose a fight. But it’s good to argue and let it all out 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:

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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 help out in the kitchen”
  • “You never take the thrash out”

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 thrash out had you done the dishes tonight”
  • “You are always so mean to me”
  • “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 hellbent 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 argument with your spouse? 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. 

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Types And Reasons For Arguments In A Relationship 

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. 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 one is wrong. Such repeated fights in a relationship can turn chronic if it’s 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 are definitely a burning topic between couples that paves the way for arguments and bickering very often. 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 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. 

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. You 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. You need to learn the tips to build trust in a relationship. Always know that with dedication, honesty, and love, nothing is impossible. 

6. Couple fight over 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 or see themselves as boring. This will make them feel bad about themselves. The extroverted partner, on the other hand, may feel stifled. You both have to compromise and find a middle ground. 

Fighting In Relationships — How Much Is Too Much?

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 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 out 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. If you’ve been wondering how much arguing is not normal in a relationship, here are a few parameters than 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 

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:

  • When couples argue, they learn about each other’s 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 resolved 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:

  • 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 even if they aren’t on the wrong side
  • 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 

Responding to the question, Is it normal to fight every day in a relationship?, 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 dynamics of conflict resolution 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:

DosDon’ts
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. 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. Responding to these questions, Riddhi 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. 

“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.”

Disagreements are bound to happen in relationships. You can even argue or disagree about things daily. As long as neither of you resorts to abuse or toxic tendencies like silent treatment or stonewalling, there’s nothing to worry about. I believe that spousal arguments are one of the ways of being vulnerable with the person you love. I used to be someone who froze at the thought of confrontation and preferred stonewalling when I was upset with my partner. However, over time, I learned the value and importance of arguing early in a relationship, thanks to my partner who has a unique ability to tell me where I’m going wrong without making me feel conscious, guilty, or insecure.

He asked me to do the same and speak up whenever I’m miffed with him instead of going inside my shell and staying there for weeks till I feel better. He made me realize how this is unfair toward him and how this was creating cracks in our relationship. We are newly married and we’re still learning how to argue properly in a relationship, but one thing is for sure, we argue and we argue a lot. But we never put down each other or threaten to leave the relationship. 

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How 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. Fighting in relationships and 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:

  • If your partner is hurt because of your actions, accept it. Apologize and take responsibility for your wrongdoings
  • Learn to compromise. You can’t have your way every single time. If you want to peacefully resolve an argument, then this is the way to go about it
  • If one partner withdraws, don’t force them back into the fight. Don’t chase them around screaming or yelling
  • When couples argue, they often forget that they are in a heated discussion with someone they love and end up saying things that they will regret. Never forget that you love this person and wouldn’t want to hurt them intentionally
  • Once an argument has been put to rest, don’t resurrect it in another argument

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 to protect yourself

Just because you are fighting a lot doesn’t mean your relationship is headed to a dead-end. When handled 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 couples 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.  

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