Arguments in a relationship are undoubtedly an unpleasant occurrence. The disagreements, the anger and frustration that come with them, the shouting matches or storming out, leaving an issue unresolved, can all leave a bad aftertaste. If we could have our way, we’d never fight with someone we love so dearly. But the fact of the matter is that, no matter how much you love each other, two people can’t agree on everything. That’s why arguments and fights are so commonplace in relationships.
However, contrary to the belief that fighting over your differences can damage your bond, arguments are healthy for your relationship. As long as you practice healthy arguing techniques and don’t cross the line of saying mean or hurtful things or displaying toxic behavior.
What are these healthy arguing techniques? What is the right way to handle arguments in a relationship? We spoke to counselor Manjari Saboo (Masters in Applied Psychology and Post-Graduate Diploma in Family Therapy and Child Care Counseling), founder of Maitree Counselling, an initiative dedicated to the emotional well-being of families and children, for an insight into how arguments in a relationship can be healthy.
Is It Normal To Have Arguments In A Relationship?
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Have you ever come across a couple who doesn’t fight, disagree or argue from time to time? No? That in itself speaks to the inevitability of conflict and arguments in a relationship. No two people, no matter how much in sync, view life the same way. It is this uniqueness that governs our responses, thoughts and emotional triggers to different situations.
Arguing in a relationship is just a manifestation of these fundamental differences. Since conflict and confrontations are unpleasant, they can lead us to view arguments as a bad thing. As you’ll soon see, arguing is healthy, as long as we manage to be civil. It is a sign that both partners have the room to be their own person and be independent in the relationship. Besides, it gives you a chance to learn more about each other as well as uncover any underlying issues that may be causing trouble in your paradise.
Arguments give you a chance to tackle these issues and differences together as a team. If a couple doesn’t fight, it indicates that they have given up on their relationship. So, it won’t be a stretch to say that couples who fight stay together. Even so, not all arguments and fights are created equal. Certain red flags signal that your arguments could be the result of some severe underlying problems.
“Are arguments in relationships healthy? Can they help strengthen a couple’s bond? I would say, yes. Arguments in relationships have a broader meaning when applied to different situations. Through arguments, couples can find solutions to their issues, clarifications, peace of mind, a better understanding of situations as well as each other’s thought processes. This, in turn, enables better handling of each other’s point of view,” says Manjari.
However, healthy arguing techniques are also a huge determining factor when it comes to assessing whether arguments can help a relationship. Tendencies such as giving each other the silent treatment, stonewalling each other, calling each other names, making threats, and resorting to emotional abuse or physical violence are not healthy arguing techniques.
Small arguments in a relationship must not be turned into toxic screaming matches, and holding grudges or keeping a scorecard only indicates that you’re having the discussion to “win” it, rather than to reach a place of mutual understanding. In such cases, it is best to consider seeking couples’ therapy to understand what’s the best course of action for the future.
Other than that, arguing due to communication issues or differences of opinion is normal and healthy. “Yes, sometimes arguments trigger debates, fights and a total mess. Whether or not a difference of opinion can be healthy for a relationship boils down to the ability of both partners to handle arguments in a relationship. When you apply the right techniques for resolving conflict, an argument can become a tool for growth. It shows a healthy relationship dynamic, based on care, concern and affection. Hence, should be welcomed with an open heart,” adds Manjari.
Is it good to argue in a relationship? As long as you’ve got healthy conflict resolution tactics in the bag and don’t permanently harm your relationship by saying some hurtful things in the heat of the moment, it can be good for the relationship. For the sake of a better perspective on the fine line that divides healthy from unhealthy, let’s explore why arguments are important in a relationship.
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12 Reasons Arguments In A Relationship Can Be Healthy
Do you find yourself wondering is it normal to fight every day in a relationship or how often do couples fight in a healthy relationship? There is a good chance that you and your partner have a go at each other more often than not. These outbursts can feel unsettling when they erupt and while the tension lasts. But rest assured, as long as they’re not the result of some major issues, arguments in a relationship are a good sign.
Is it normal to have arguments in a relationship? Yes. In fact, a relationship without arguments is abnormal. However, harboring toxic emotions under the guise of “arguing is healthy for us” shouldn’t be the goal. It’s important to know what’s normal and what isn’t, so you don’t let your skewed perception avoid all the red flags glaring back at you. Here are 12 reasons why arguing in a relationship is essential for staying together, and what’s normal and what isn’t:
1. You are capable of discussing problems
A relationship without arguments or fights is often one where either one or both partners have mastered the art of sweeping things under the carpet. However, that is never the wise thing to do. You cannot ignore your problems and wish them away.
If left unaddressed, even the smallest, everyday differences can build up into resentment and bitterness creeps into the relationship. On the other hand, arguing in a relationship points to your ability to address problems as they arise. This, in turn, reduces the risk of a deeper rift between you and your partner.
“Again, the importance of healthy arguing techniques cannot be stressed enough. Let the argument be in a form of discussion and not a debate. If you see a sign that the discussion is leading to a debate, drop the issue at hand or the point you’re making instantly. You will have enough opportunities to revisit this and put your perspective across or accept your partner’s. For a relationship to grow healthily, the focus of relationship arguments should not be proving your point,” says Manjari.
As Manjari points out, asking questions like, “How much arguing is normal in a relationship?”, is futile if all your arguments result in nasty name-calling that damages the relationship further. Though you’re capable of discussing your problems, you also need to be able to have those discussions properly.
2. It establishes an equal partnership
Are arguments in relationships healthy? Yes, arguments are healthy because they help you establish a partnership of equals in true earnest. By voicing your disagreement over something that your partner has done – and vice versa – you establish the fact that neither of you can assert dominance, expecting the other to be the meek one.
The ability to speak your mind when you don’t agree with your partner drives home the point that you will not take the not-so-pleasant aspects of your relationship in your stride. Instead, you will put your foot down where it counts.
This helps build mutual respect in the relationship, which goes a long way in strengthening your bond. Do arguments strengthen relationships? When you can establish an equal footing in it by making it clear that you will not be pushed around, the establishing of mutual respect can clearly strengthen your dynamic.
3. You speak your mind
So many times differences and discords take hold in a relationship because one person expects the other to understand certain things or act a certain way without making their expectations known. When these expectations are not met, it naturally leads to frustration.
However, we aren’t often able to voice these disappointments and frustrations in the moment. “I always had a problem with how Jolene would cut me off every time I talk. I tried to shrug it off thinking it’s just because she’s excited and wants to talk, but it came to the point where I felt like I couldn’t complete a single sentence without being interrupted,” Richard told us.
“One day, when we were talking about our favorite vacations, it just felt like I was listening to her and she didn’t much care about my experiences. The ‘fun’ conversation quickly turned into an argument when I screamed at her for never letting me talk. If you were to ask me why arguments are important in a relationship, I’ll tell you that they helped me speak my mind. Nonetheless, I wish I hadn’t spoken to her so rudely and not bottled up my feelings for so long that they just erupted at one point,” he adds.
Arguments are a healthy outlet for all these residual negative feelings. This helps you maintain transparency in the relationship. Small arguments in a relationship can definitely end with mutual compromise and understanding. So, instead of waiting to burst out, make sure you speak your mind when you need to. Even if it leads to a small argument.
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4. Arguments in a relationship lead to solutions
It is said that couples who fight stay together because arguments steer you away from problems and toward solutions. When things get heated, both partners are more likely to come clean about what’s going on in their minds. This, in turn, allows you to see your problems and differences clearly and work toward finding a solution.
Besides, once you get to the root cause of your trouble and weed it out, you can prevent having the same fights over and over again. For instance, if you know that a certain action or tendency upsets your partner, you’ll naturally make an effort to rein it in. Though they loved to banter with each other, Molina hated the way Richard spoke to her in the same tone while in public. She thought it looked crass and sent out the wrong message to the people around them.
At first, Richard couldn’t understand why private banter should remain private, and picked a fight with Molina for wanting to change the way he talks to her in public. To him, he was just messing around. But when she explained how it made her feel, he quickly realized he was disrespecting his partner.
“Is it good to argue in a relationship?” asked Richard, adding, “Had this fight not arisen, I’d have kept talking to her in public the way I did. Who knows the damage that might have caused down the line. I wouldn’t want her to fight with me in public,” he chuckled.
5. It eliminates grudges
Let’s say your partner stood you up in front of your friends. Even though they may have their reasons for it, their actions are bound to upset you. If you hold it all inside, you may start holding a grudge and thinking of ways of getting back at them. These tendencies may lead to an unhealthy relationship in the long run.
But by arguing about it, you get a chance to express your disappointment and hurt. You shouldn’t go in guns blazing, expecting to reach a happy place if you slam open the door and shout at your partner. Instead, despite the hurt, if you tell your partner, “I’m so hurt that you stood me up, why did you do that?”, you can get to the bottom of things in an amicable manner.
Once you’ve calmed down, you may even hear your partner’s side of the story with an open mind. It gives you the chance to bury the hatchet and move on, without any lingering grudges threatening your bond. Do arguments strengthen relationships? When you clear out misunderstandings and get rid of your grudges, you’re bound to strengthen your equation.
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6. Arguments help build understanding
Often, in life and relationships, things are not black and white, right and wrong. There are a lot of gray areas to navigate. When you handle arguments in a relationship well, it gives you a chance to see a situation from two diverging perspectives. In the process, you can gain a better insight into your partner’s stance on certain things or their core relationship values and beliefs.
This, ultimately, helps build a better understanding and brings you closer. Even petty arguments in relationships can give you an insight into your partner’s likes and dislikes, helping you understand them better and more intimately. When you become more empathetic in your relationship, it binds you together as a team.
However, if you’re arguing with every single conversation and you’re asking yourself, “How much arguing is normal in a relationship?”, you may need to take a look at why you’re at loggerheads so often. Are you unable to understand where your partner is coming from, and that’s why the animosity keeps lingering? Try to work on inculcating empathy and the frequency may reduce too.
7. Arguing in a relationship promotes romance
Reconciling after an argument can lead to a deluge of emotions and fuzzy feelings, which can whirl up the romance all over again. Haven’t we all heard about the much eulogized make-up sex! Intense arguments bring out intense feelings, which can propel your romantic leanings to the next level.
Besides, fighting, and perhaps not talking to each other, give you a chance to see how much you value each other. When you resolve your issues and reconnect, it helps you see the futility of sweating the small stuff.
8. It shows that you care
A relationship without arguments or fights is considered worrisome because it indicates that either one or both partners have given up the prospect of a future together. They might have even accepted that their long-term relationship is over. On the other hand, when you fight tooth and nail to protest or mitigate the things that you see as a threat to your relationship, you are working toward creating a better, more wholesome space as a couple.
The fact that things big and small affect you reiterates that you’re not indifferent toward your partner or your relationship. “When the argument has a wider horizon depicting the concern and care of one partner toward the other or the relationship, it makes their partnership better and more wholesome. This is when you rise above petty arguments in relationships and fight with your partner’s and relationship’s best interests at heart.
“For example, arguing about healthy lifestyle choices because you’re concerned about your partner’s well-being is undoubtedly healthy. However, just because your motives are pure doesn’t mean you can take a no-holds-barred approach to arguments.
“Some caution is essential even when having the concern argument. For instance, these arguments or discussions should involve just you and your partner. Involving parents, siblings or friends may not be the best recourse. Advice by others may not be a welcome guest,” advises Manjari.
9. You become a better listener
Provided you are using healthy arguing techniques and fighting respectfully to address your issues, fights and disagreements can make you a better listener. Speaking to prove a point or provide a counter-argument is an unhealthy tendency that widens the rift between romantic partners. As a result, misunderstandings take hold.
On the contrary, if you learn to listen intently and try to understand the other person’s point of view, arguments in a relationship can be a constructive way to develop a meaningful connection with the person you love.
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10. Arguments make you feel light
Fighting with your partner can be an awful experience while it lasts. What with temper blazing, yelling and tears. Ugh! But have you ever felt like a load has been lifted off your chest once you’re done fighting and arguing? That’s because venting is important to escape your frustrations and be at peace.
Not holding things inside is a good practice to follow for all things in life. But it is particularly crucial when you’re trying to build a solid foundation for a relationship. So, if you’ve been worried about arguing early in a relationship or fighting often, don’t beat yourself up. As long as there are no toxic issues at play, fights and arguments will only help keep your relationship stress-free.
11. It prevents complacency
As time goes by, couples find a rhythm to their life together. While it can be familiar and comforting, it can be highly monotonous. Following the same routine, doing the same things over and over again sure dims the spark and excitement in your relationship. Soon, you may start taking each other for granted.
That is a recipe ripe for disaster. Arguments and fights are like a wake-up call that pull you out of this slumber and make you see what’s at stake, from time to time. This realization prevents you from becoming too complacent to prioritize your partner.
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12. You grow as a couple
Think back to the times you found yourself arguing early in a relationship. Every heated discussion, every fight, every argument helped you discover a little bit more about your partner. These discoveries, in turn, help you adjust your relationship goals and decide what’s best for you as a couple.
Over time, you become more accepting of each other’s flaws and appreciative of your strengths. Fights help you see that you cannot “fix” a partner but help them become a better version of themselves. This kind of maturity coupled with patience and forgiveness in relationships is what helps you grow as a couple.
Is it normal to have arguments in a relationship? As you can probably tell by now, it is, and it can be healthy as well. As much as you may despise them, disagreements are bound to occur in a relationship. What you do with them determines the impact these disagreements can have on your future. Learning to resolve your issues using healthy arguing techniques is what helps keep relationships intact and blissful in the long run.
A lot has been said about healthy arguing techniques in making sure conflict and difference don’t take a toll on your relationship. But what are these health conflict resolution techniques? Manjari offers a simple but deep insight, “If a small talk escalates into an argument with your partner and you find yourself in a demanding place, asking questions like “Why me?” “Why always me?” “Why not you?”, relax for some time and then reverse these questions – “Why not me?” “Why always them?” “Why not the other way around?”
“In all likelihood, you will get a totally different answer, and any argument that may have been a thorn in your side can suddenly seem inconsequential. In short, arguments in a relationship are healthy only when they don’t emerge from the self-centered needs of one partner but the larger good of the partnership.” If your relationship is currently suffering from unhealthy arguments or you’re not arguing at all, consider couples therapy. Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists can help you paint a path toward a harmonious relationship.
Arguing in a relationship is important because it does not let issues pile up and turn into irreconcilable differences over time.
There is no rule of thumb on how often couples should fight and at what point it becomes unhealthy. The key is to argue maturely and healthily to resolve your difference and not for one-upmanship.
Listening intently and trying to see things from the other person’s perspective is the best way to handle arguments in a relationship. Because when you don’t listen to understand but to contradict and prove your point, arguments can turn ugly.
Research indicates that an average couple argues 7 times a day. However, every relationship and couple is unique. What works for most people may or may not for you. It is okay to argue and discuss whenever something has been bothering you rather than bottle up your feelings.
As they say, never go to bed angry. Stay up and figure it out. It’s best to resolve your arguments at the earliest possible and not resort to tendencies such as silent treatment and stonewalling just to get back at your partner.