Arguments in couples are usually marked by two people trying to convince each other that they are right. They are fuelled by adrenaline and therefore can bring anger, raised voices, intense body language, blaming and maybe finger pointing with them.
Why do couples argue?
People have differences. That is just a fact of life. About politics, tidiness, choice of food, religion, culture, raising children, money, where to go on holiday, etc. – the differences exist. And those differences will clash from time to time.
It is not unusual to find people in a relationship with someone completely different to them. A person who does not like details will end up in a relationship with someone who loves it. It is part of what makes the relationship work. But what makes it work will also create friction. And for some reason, despite being blatantly obvious about what will cause arguments, not enough couples think through how they will manage this difference. Inevitably of course, the pull in opposing directions creates frustration. Feelings about not being understood by the other emerge and turn into arguments.
Two people raised differently with different values, potentially from different cultures and different family backgrounds are bound to want different things in life. This will require negotiation with your partner. You can ignore the difference but that is usually more harmful to the relationship. With an argument a couple at least have a chance of expressing their frustration and at resolving it. Differences that are ignored or swept under the carpet are often accumulating and growing in strength to come back another day.
Can arguments be healthy?
Arguments by themselves are not bad for the relationship but the inability to resolve them can be harmful. Arguments can be used to realign thoughts and perhaps even the relationship itself, maybe even express frustration over unmet needs. In healthy arguments people are able to talk about how they feel, listen to each other and are able to find common grounds for moving forward. These arguments are often resolved and don’t make their way into other arguments.
Cyclic arguments where people don’t listen to each other, which become shouting matches, incorporate name calling or become part of a blame game are often unhealthy for the relationship. These arguments generally remain unresolved and become the breeding grounds for resentment.
Research also suggests that couples who argue effectively are 10 times more likely to have a happy relationship.
What makes a successful relationship?
In two words – good communication!
The key to a successful relationship is learning to argue in a healthy way and communicate your thoughts and feeling to each other. Those who do this with frankness, honesty and openness have a much better chance at creating long term happiness in the relationship than those who blame each other, have no co-ownership of the relationship and no insight into their own behaviour.
Due to the intimate nature of the relationship between couples, both physically and emotionally, learning to navigate the world of difference holds the key to a successful couple relationship.
In my practice in London Waterloo (SE1) and Hampton (TW12) I work with my clients to help them rekindle their relationship and argue in a healthy way. Get in touch if you would like help with your relationship.