No relationship is perfect, and every couple has their own share of ups and downs. However, what separates happy couples from miserable couples is how arguments are handled. There a number of things happy couples do when they fight that make their arguments more productive and less hurtful, and knowing these behaviors can help you improve your own relationship as well. All couples are unique, but certain habits prove to be more effective when it comes to disagreements.
Contrary to what you might believe, fighting — the proper way — can actually be healthy and strengthen your relationship. “When couples have fights, that is a sign that they feel comfortable enough to express their differences without feeling like their entire relationship could implode,” says sex and relationship expert Megan Stubbs, EdD, ACS over email. “When one party constantly goes along with what the other does, it can be a sign that they don't feel secure in the relationship. They don't want to upset the status quo for fear of the repercussions.”
Bottling up your feelings isn’t right, but neither is exploding on your partner and making them feel bad. If you feel like your fights are more destructive than productive, try paying attention to these nine things that happy couples do when they fight.
1They Avoid Name Calling
Calling your partner stupid or insulting them only adds fuel to the fire, and it won’t help resolve anything, no matter how upset you are. “When happy couples fight, they make sure to keep whatever issue they are fighting about at the forefront and won't use name calling to bring their partner down,” says Stubbs.
2They Stay Focused In The Present
Happy couples avoid bringing up past discretions, especially if they’re not relevant to the argument. “If something has been put to rest, they don't bring it up to gain the upper hand of a fight,” says Stubbs. Focus on the issues at hand instead of digging up sensitive moments from the past.
3They Look For Compromise
Looking for compromise is essential, and attentively listening to your partner can help you get there. “Ultimately they know that they are a team and that despite their differences, their relationship is (hopefully) greater than the conflict,” says Stubbs.
4They Keep It Between Themselves
“In a healthy relationship, no one is taking their fight to social media or engaging friends or family to have someone on their side,” says psychologist and relationship expert Antonia Hall, MA over email. “Happy couples know that they are a team, and if they want to make the relationship work, they have to work things out with each other.”
5They Work Through It Right Away
“Taking a little time to regroup, gather one's thoughts and calm down is a healthy part of working through disagreements, but letting things carry on unresolved for days isn't,” says Hall. “In a happy relationship, couples work things out in a timely manner so they don't escalate and they get back to enjoying each other faster.”
6They Accept Apologies
When a partner offers a sincere apology, the other person is willing to accept it instead of holding onto anger or hurt. “Trying to hold something against one's partner only creates more pain and distance,” says Hall. “In a true partnership, couples apologize and forgive one another.”
7They Avoid Interrupting
During a fight, happy couples let their partners express their feelings without interruption. “Just listen,” says relationship expert Audrey Hope over email. “Things will calm down, but first hear each other. If your significant other is taking time to scream, shout or make a point, then there must be a good reason. Allow the madness. It can only lead you to a better understanding.”
8They Admit When They're Wrong
“Stop having to be right for a change,” says Hope. “What is winning after all, if you lose the one you love? Accept, surrender and know that laying down the armor in a fight is actually a win.”
9They Avoid Generalizations
Happy couples avoid using phrases like “you never,” or “you always.” “Generalizations don't help address the specific issue at hand,” says Stubbs. Focus on explaining how that person made you feel in this specific instance.
10They Respect When The Fight's Over
“Once a disagreement is resolved, loving partners don't continue to bring them up over and over again,” says Hall. “Committed sweethearts get their points across, hear one another, forgive, and move on.”