It's pretty much a given that if you spend a ton of time with someone, you'll end up bickering at
some point. So, bickering with your partner from time to time is not unusual. "It's healthy for partners to disagree and to be disagreeable to a degree," Dr. Jess Carbino, Sociologist for Bumble, tells Bustle. But how do you know if your bickering is normal or a sign of a much bigger relationship problem?
Well, how you bicker matters. "If the bickering occurs more often than agreement, there are more fundamental issues at play," she says. "Bickering is then most likely being used as a tool of dissent or protest representing a larger issue."
Besides how you bicker, how you resolve your small, day-to-day disagreements matter as well. "If the disagreements interfere with functioning to the extent that decision-making is paralyzed or basic relationship functioning stops, there are larger issues at hand," Dr. Carbino says. Healthy relationships are ones where individuals are able to
discuss disagreements amicably and where both sides can compromise and recognize the merit of the other’s argument.
If you and your partner bicker a lot, there's no need to worry just yet. According to experts, here are ways to tell if your bickering is normal or a sign of a bigger problem in your relationship:
Bickering Is A Problem If It Includes Accusations And Character Assault
If your bickering leads to you calling your partner names or them accusing you of things like cheating, then that's a problem. As couple and family therapist,
Tracy K. Ross, LCSW, tells Bustle, "Bickering constantly can become and cycle and you need to interrupt the cycle. Don't just let it happen."
If you can, Ross suggests to stop using "You" statements (i.e. You are the one at fault), as well as "never" or "always" when arguing.
Bickering Is Not a Problem If You Can Laugh About The Bickering Later
Bickering is not OK when it leads to
period of distance or no contact. If you do talk afterwards, Ross says, it's a problem when someone's either defensive or critical of the other. "If you're saying thing you wish you could take back, it's not normal," she says. But if you can laugh about it later on, you're OK.
Bickering Is A Problem If You Don't Have A Good Way To Repair It
"If you just wait until it blows over or you worry that an apology will be rejected, that may be a sign of bigger relationship issues," Ross says.
If you're in a healthy relationship, you shouldn't have to feel like you're constantly walking on eggshells. As Ross says, if you can genuinely feel heard and understood in your relationship, then your bickering is not a problem.
Bickering Is Not A Problem If You Can Move On And Not Let It Ruin Your Day
Ross says bickering is not a problem if you can honestly say you have five genuinely positive interactions, for every one that results in an argument. But if you feel like your mini-arguments never actually get resolved, those disagreements may fester or build to something that needs to be openly discussed.
Bickering Is A Problem If You Wouldn't Want Your Friends Or Family To Hear It
If you feel a sense of shame over your family or friends hearing the two of you bicker, Ross says that's a big problem. Although it's not healthy to openly fight in front of other people either, your need to keep small disagreements a secret from everyone could be very telling. Maybe you know deep down that your partner results to name-calling during disagreements. If you don't want your friends or your mom to hear you and your partner bicker, that may be a sign of a much bigger problem.
Bickering Is Not A Problem If You And Your Partner Can Have A Productive Conversation About It At A Later Time
Disagreements won't ever be resolved unless they're openly discussed. Ross says it's a good sign when you can have a productive conversation about it at a later time and not feel stuck by it. That means you're open to working through relationship problems with each other. After all, that's the best way to get stronger as a couple.
Bickering Is A Problem If You Start Avoiding Certain Subjects Because You Fear It Will Lead To An Argument
If you've started to avoid certain topics because you know it will lead to arguments, that's a sign of bigger relationship issues that need to be discussed. According to Ross, bickering is not something you should actively avoid, and it's something that should be resolved quickly. If you feel like you have to constantly defend your position when a specific issue comes up, that's a problem. In this case, not fighting can do more harm for your relationship than good.
It's important to know that fighting in relationships is OK sometimes and can actually be helpful in making your relationship stronger. If you want your bickering to stay on the right track, Ross suggests making sure your interactions are always more positive than negative and never bringing up past issues when you're feeling angry over something else.
Bickering in a healthy way shouldn't lead to full-blown arguments. So during disagreements, it's important mindful about where it's leading to. "Try to understand yourself in the context of what's going on," she says. "Focus on what you can do to change the dynamic and not on what you
think your partner should be doing." If you can do that, your relationship will benefit from it in the long run.