Arguments Can Improve Your Relationship When You Both Feel Understood, Says New Study

No matter how happy a couple may be, conflict is inevitable. Many of us can agree that fighting with your partner is not fun. When arguments get a little out of hand, or a small fight turns a little personal, it’s hard to see how you and your partner can ever move forward without that little bit of resentment. But as they say, what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger. As a new study suggests, arguments within a relationship may actually prove to be beneficial – only when both partners feel understood.

In a study conducted by Amie Gordon and Serena Chen of the University of California, feeling understood by one’s partner can improve a relationship on its own, regardless of conflict. When people feel like they are understood by their partners, conflict is not detrimental, but actually good for the relationship. "Evidence suggests that feeling understood during conflict may buffer against reduced relationship satisfaction, in part because it strengthens the relationship and signals one's partner is invested," researchers said in the study. "These studies suggest that perceived understanding may be a critical buffer against the potentially detrimental effects of relationship conflict."

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The study, which was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, took a sample of 107 married couples in their 20s and 30s and assessed their overall relationship satisfaction over a span of three years.

As it was found, people who frequently argued with their partners reported to feeling lower satisfaction in their relationships unless they felt like their partners understood them. At the same time, people rated their relationship satisfaction to be higher post-conflict if they felt understood. Furthermore, when one partner felt understood, their other half felt happier overall.

The researchers findings suggest that people feel like their partners are more invested in the relationship when they make an effort to understand them.

Relationships are great, but they also take a lot of work. Being an understanding partner is easier said than done. But just remember, relationships are never a one-sided thing. Everyone brings their own little bit of greatness and shortcomings to the table. As partners, you just have to learn to accept, deal, and understand each other. No matter how annoying you find your partner’s lack of household chore-doing to be.

With that, here are some ways to work on understanding your partner.

1. Communicate

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How many times have you or your friends complained, "He/She doesn't understand me!" Start by working to understand them. In order to understand a person, you need to learn about them. Learn about their likes and dislikes. Learn about the things they want and need. How are you going to learn about them if you don’t communicate? Pretty much everyone’s been told that communication is essential for a successful relationship. Many relationship issues could be solved with a little bit of open communication. Don’t be afraid to express yourself, but do so within reason. Being a good communicator means talking WITH your partner, not talking AT them. It also means actively listening and giving them a chance to give input.

2. Be Attentive

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When it comes to understanding someone, being attentive to how they operate is important. For instance, if you notice that your partner isn’t a huge texter, then don't blow up their phone every hour trying to update them on your life. It will only make you upset when they don’t answer immediately and it will only make your partner really annoyed.

3. Acknowledge Their Feelings

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When your partner tells you how they feel, take it in, think it over, and don’t brush it off to the side. Keep it at the forefront of your mind. When you openly acknowledge your partner’s feelings, it will be easier for them to do the same for you.

"Think about why your partner may respond to things the way he or she does," New York City-based life coach, Melanie Rudnick tells Bustle. "Learning about your partner's life experiences helps us become more aware, more understanding, and have more compassion. That compassion allows us to relate and understand one another better."

4. Remember That It’s Not Always About You

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When things are going wrong, it’s super easy to place blame on the other person. But it’s a relationship. A partnership. It shouldn’t always be about you. Although you might see things one way, your partner might see it the other. In that case, be open to their opinion and point of view. Don’t immediately shut them down because you don’t agree. Try to see things from their perspective and it might open your eyes to new possibilities.

"Put yourself in your partner's shoes. Actually spend time thinking about things from a different perspective. There are other ways to perceive things besides your own point of view," Rudnick says.

5. Don't Be Frustrated

No matter how hard you try to understand something about someone, sometimes, you just can't. But don't be frustrated. It's totally normal. You just have to learn to accept it.

"Understand that you won't always understand, and that's OK," Rudnick says. "We have all experienced different things in our lives which ultimately affect they way we think, perceive, and feel."

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