10 Disagreements That Aren't Dealbreakers In Relationships, According To Couples Therapists
Disagreeing with a partner can feel really daunting, but every couple has their arguments. And even some things that feel like they could be the kiss of death are actually totally common (and even healthy), according to couples counselors and other relationship experts. Many common relationship problems can turn into positives in the long-term, if you just learn how to deal with them.
Relationship experts are quick to note that the future of the relationship can be judged by how the couple handles arguments, not the arguments themselves. "Research by the Gottman Institute indicates that couples that stay together and happy do not ever resolve two thirds of their conflicts," Nicole Richardson, Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, tells Bustle. "[This] tells us that the solution is not resolution but how we work together and how we listen to each other while we work through conflict." The data shows that even the argument you've been repeating for years can, in the big picture, be a mundane part of a happy life.
"It's unrealistic to expect both partners to see eye-to-eye on everything," David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "However, if both people can resolve disagreement in a way that is honest, kind, and based on compromise ... the relationship will succeed." And for certain types of disagreements, like the ones below, being able to communicate about them openly can actually be an indication that your relationship is getting stronger.
Here are 10 disagreements that couples counselors say don't have to lead to divorce.
1. The In-Laws
This may sound like a no-brainer to some, but it can become a huge issue if you're not careful. Luckily, if you're honest about it, nothing bad has to come of a bad relationship between parents and partners.
"There are a host of reasons why the ‘in-laws’ can be problematic," Richardson says. "The most common reasons in my experience is feeling defensive of how they are treating you and feeling protective of how you feel they are treating your partner." So tell your partner if their parents make you uncomfortable. It's totally fine if they spend more time with them alone.
2. Your Sexual Needs
You probably don't want to settle down with someone who you don't have good sex with, but disagreeing on the logistics of sex shouldn't cause you too much worry.
"It’s normal to have an argument about the difference in your sex drive, especially if it started to decline the longer you have been together," Diana and Todd Mitchem, relationship coaches at EnariLove.com tell Bustle. "... This is often an uncomfortable topic, but it needs to be discussed and a plan of action needs to be put together to balance out the relationship as well as prevent unneeded disagreements." If things are changing, but no one's talking about it, that's an issue. But if you're willing to be honest, and the issue is simply how many times a week, or in what position, and you both can find an agreement you're comfortable with, you're good to go.
3. How To Parent
While the issue of whether or not to have children can be a serious dealbreaker, deciding how to parent if you do have kids doesn't have to be.
"[Arguing about] how to raise [and] how to discipline ... can get really tense," Richardson says. "All parents struggle with what to prepare you kids for verses what to protect them from ... And it is compounded by the fact that each kid has different needs so the solution is rarely easy or simple." But this doesn't mean that absolutely everyone who disagrees over this is destined for divorce. It just means that your feelings are common. And unless your partner is bumping up against you on something fundamental, cut your partner and yourself some slack.
In a partnership, you'll need to be open about money. But disagreeing about some aspects, like where to spend it and how to invest it, doesn't have to mean that you two won't make it through. "While this can certainly become a problematic issue in a relationship if one partner is racking up serious debt, it can be normal for partners to disagree on how much money they're spending and what they're spending it on (for example, one partner buys lunch everyday at work versus bringing lunch from home)” Licensed Professional Counselor, Julie Williamson, tells Bustle.
Like all issues, it's all about being open and honest. While a spender and a saver may not make it through the test of time, two people who can work out a way around some small differences will be just fine.
5. How You Show Affection
If you've ever gotten into a fight because one of you expected something from the other, but the other didn't follow through, this is for you. You may need your partner to pick you up from the airport, and they may need flowers when they're feeling down, but that doesn't mean that being on different pages invalidates your partnership.
"Each person in a couple might have a different idea of what romance looks like, what kindness looks like, and what showing love looks like," Lisa Olivera, licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in Oakland, California, tells Bustle. "Without understanding this, couples may feel like their needs aren’t getting met, which leads to arguments. To ease this, try assessing what each partner's Love Language is ... in order to get a better understanding of how they show love and how they want to be shown love." Once you can accurately gauge how your partner likes to give and receive affection, you can avoid a lot of miscommunications and fights. And even if you still bump heads every once and a while, you'll be alright.
6. Your Social Lives
Yes, it's a good thing to be friends with your significant other. But it's absolutely not necessary to do everything together. "Almost always, there will be one partner who is more adventurous or needs a more active social life than the other partner," Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. So if you've gotten into an argument (or five) about what to do on a Tuesday night, know that relationship therapists aren't worried about your future.
Family time also falls into this category. Down the line, if one of you sees extended family more than the other, that isn't a bad thing. "I've noticed a common trend of one partner believing they spend too much time with the other person's family," Williamson says. That's OK. Just talk it out, make an agreement, and don't judge them for having different priorities.
7. Politics — For The Most Part
Of course, if your partner supports politics that deny your existence, feel free to pack your bags and leave. But surprisingly, couples counselors don't see political arguments as a kiss of death for a partnership. So while you can stay away from whoever you please, disagreeing on a specific piece of legislation doesn't have to mean your relationship is doomed.
"Many couples have differing political views and still manage to stay together," Bennett says. "... Political differences become an issue if one partner (or both) is really intense about their views. This is when it may go from a disagreement to a full on, protracted war which could cause long term issues." If, instead, you're bickering about minor political differences, you're probably just fine to go the distance.
8. House Chores
Even relationship experts know that chores are a drag. But if you disagree about how to divide and conquer, there are ways to help keep this argument from becoming a serious issue.
"Not many people love doing housework like dishes, cleaning the bathroom, and cooking every night so it’s important to make sure that you find a solution that fits both of your needs," the Mitchems say. "... List all the chores that need to be done and how often and then split it in the middle. If you hate doing dishes but your partner hates cooking then you can cook and your partner can do dishes." Every couple has to deal with this, and they'll need to get done no matter how much you complain, so work on it. And if you bicker, remember that it's just typical.
9. Your Pet Peeves
If there's one little thing that your partner does that you just can't get past, it might feel like there's something bigger looming behind it. Turns out, that's not necessarily true.
"We all have [pet peeves], and our partners tend to highlight them at times," Olivera says. "Spending a lot of time with someone means we get to see all of their quirks and idiosyncrasies, which can often cause irritation or annoyance. This is so normal, and allowing ourselves to feel those pet peeves without wondering what's wrong with us is key in moving past them faster." So smile — or at least try to — next time they leave the toilet seat up. You could have way bigger problems to worry about.
10. Matters Of Personal Taste
Your partner might be bothered that you haven't seen (or really, strongly dislike) their favorite childhood movie. It might even turn into a fight. But relationship experts absolutely don't think that this is a bad sign for the future of a relationship. "So your partner loves Harry Potter and you don't? You only listen to obscure indie bands who release songs on vinyl and they listen to the newest Justin Bieber hit? Neither of those ultimately matter. Those disagreements can be worked through and dealt with," Bennett says.
Love your partner for who they are, even if they are going to a concert you wouldn't be caught dead at. Just let it roll off your back, and remember that it's about how you two handle the disagreement, not the disagreement itself.
"In the end, if core values are more or less aligned, the important thing is to have a healthy way of making decisions," Amy McManus, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle. "... Having these relationship skills is one of the most important ways to ensure that your relationship can weather the inevitable differences that you and your partner will have.” You may never resolve some conflicts, but you're partner is still there with you. Take that for what it is: a good thing.