Have you ever been bickering with your partner, only to stop and wonder if arguing is OK? Like, does its mean you guys are doomed, or unhealthy, or a bad couple? This is a totally normal reaction to a fight, since disagreements can be stressful AF. But rest assured — however it feels, little arguments are usually perfectly fine.
In fact, it's even considered healthy for couples to argue. "Because you are not clones ... you will disagree sometimes," says psychiatrist and best-selling author Dr. Gail Saltz, in an email to Bustle. "It's important for each [partner] to be able to have their views, [and to] not always clam up or disregard their own wishes. [Figuring] out how to compromise and resolve issues builds the strength of your relationship as well as trust."
That is, if you do it right. You can argue about virtually anything "as long as it's done with compassion, kindness, and consideration for the other party's feelings and the outcome," says Gretchen Kubacky, Psy.D., in an email. Of course, that doesn't mean arguments should be a free for all. Read on for some of the times it's OK to argue, as well as some times bickering is better off avoided.
1. OK: When Talking About Politics
Political discussions can put a lot of people on edge — especially in light of recent results. But don't worry too much if things get a bit heated between you two. "It's OK if you and your partner have differing political views, and it's also OK for you to hash them out by having an argument about your respective opinions," says relationship expert Lori Bizzoco, in an email to Bustle. As long as things remain civil — and you don't attack each other's core values — then this topic is (still) totally fair game.
2. Not OK: When Arguing About The Same Thing... Again
It's normal to have lifelong disagreements about silly things, like who keeps leaving the dang cereal box open. But if you two are arguing about real issues time and again, consider yourselves in unhealthy territory. "If you continue arguing about the same [things] ... you may need help from a therapist," Saltz says. Or, at the very least, you may need a game plan. Saltz tells me it's a good idea to decide together (when you're not angry) what should happen the next time the hot topic arises. That way you'll both know how to settle things before they get out of hand.
3. OK: When Discussing How Much Time To Spend Together
If your couple-y time is a point of contention, then go ahead and have yourselves an argument. "The underlying premise of this fight is wanting to spend more time with you partner, [which is] never a bad thing," Bizzoco says. "Tell your partner that you really want to set aside more time to spend with each other if you find that your weeks are filling with work." A heated discussion may be just what you need to express how important this is to your relationship, while also making it happen.
4. Not OK: When One Of You Is Being Passive Aggressive
If something is bothering you, don't let your anger out in the form of passive aggressiveness. Not only will it accomplish absolutely nothing, but it almost always makes things worse. "Mind games will drive your partner crazy," Bizzoco says. So do yourselves a favor by keeping arguments real and on topic. You'll both feel more understood, and may even reach an agreement.
5. OK: When You Can't Agree About What To Watch On TV
Of course it shouldn't turn into anything breakup-worthy — especially since it's such a small issue. But it's totally OK to bicker over watch to watch on TV, dating expert Stefanie Safran tells Bustle. "The difference is how you express your opinion and whether you can agree to disagree," she says. In other words, go ahead and argue over the remote, but figure out how to eventually reach a compromise. As long as you can do that, then this silly little argument is a-OK.
6. Not OK: When You're Both Just Trying To Get In The Last Word
Yes, it can be mighty tempting to get that last word in. "However, in a relationship, you need to walk away from this and take a breath," Bizzoco says. "If both of you try to get the last word in, you'll walk away with nothing resolved; definitely toxic to any relationship." And totally not worth it.
7. OK: When You Haven't Argued In A Minute
Again, lots of people think it's healthier to never argue. But this is actually a giant red flag, Kubacky tells me. So if you've been tamping down a few issues, or haven't spoken your mind in a hot minute, go ahead and hash it out. Then, going forward, remember to speak your mind as soon as something bothers you. "It's important to air your differences as they arise, so that they don't fester."
8. Not OK: When You Think Your Partner Is Cheating
If you truly think something is going on behind your back, then yes — it's a good idea to talk about it with your partner. What's not OK, however, is turning it into an ongoing argument. "Here's what isn't healthy: your partner getting bothered by you texting, or even starting to accuse you of cheating if you use your phone in front of them," Bizzoco says. This isn't a productive argument, but a sign that ya'll need to build up some trust. Simple as that.
9. OK: When They're Only Telling You What You Want To Hear
Does your partner ever brush off what you're saying, or agree to disagree in the most annoying way possible? If so, it can lead to another type of argument. As Bizzoco says, "The truth is, the fight that might follow this is totally normal. In fact, it's even healthy because in all likelihood your partner has your best interest at heart, no matter what. Keep this in mind if you find yourself getting upset, and appreciate that your partner is looking out for you."
10. Not OK: When Arguing In Front Of People
Again, most arguments are fine as long as you take into consideration how you're arguing. If things are going down in front of people, for instance, it's no longer acceptable. Kubacky tells me it's not OK to argue about certain topics — such as sexual issues— in front of kids. Or to talk about finances in mixed company. Nobody wants to hear that, and it isn't likely to lead to a resolution.
11. OK: When Someone Unhealthy Is Involved In Your Relationship
If someone in your SO's life is making your life difficult, it is perfectly OK to say something, Kubacky tells me. Think along the lines of a family member who isn't being the nicest, or an ex partner who's got you worried. It's much healthier to say something — and possibly argue about it — than it is to let it go unchecked.
Which is, of course, the theme of couples arguments. Saying what's on your mind, and keeping things 100, is the best way to go — even if means having an argument.
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