One timeless relationship "rule" that never seems to get old is to never
argue with your partner in public. It's best to wait until you're alone together in private before hashing out your issues. It really isn't bad advice. But are there any exceptions to that rule? According to relationship experts, there are some things you can argue about in front of other people. You just need to be mindful about how you do it.
"It’s typically recommended that fights stay within a couple because it’s not wise to air your dirty laundry,"
Katie Ziskind, LMFT, holistic marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle.
Even if you personally don't do it with your partner, you may have seen it before. One small remark
can be taken the wrong way and then a fight happens. "When couples argue, it can quickly get vicious and hurtful," Ziskind says.
But as licensed graduate marriage and family therapist,
Jordan Madison, LGMFT, tells Bustle, "Most people would probably say you shouldn't have any arguments in public, but that is not very realistic in my opinion, especially around close family and friends."
So here are some things that are OK to argue about in public, according to experts.
What To Buy At The Store
tiffs over the best cookie brand to buy or the "right" way to choose fruits and vegetables is totally fine. But it's not OK when one partner starts guilting the other for buying things they don't need. "If you’re calm and respectful, have any type of conversation you desire, about feelings or grocery shopping," Ziskind says. As long as you are both calm and there are no underlying issues with money and finances, little argument at the store are OK.
"In my view, the only fights you should have around others are ones about minor issues," David Bennett, counselor and relationship expert at
Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. Minor issues are things that can easily be solved with a little communication. These are not things that you constantly argue about over and over again. "Nobody wants to be hanging out with a couple and have to endure a drawn out and possibly dramatic fight that makes everyone involved feel uncomfortable," he says. If you can argue about minor things and still remain calm and civil, it's totally fine.
A Disagreement Over Something That Happened That Day
Disagreements around day to day occurrences happens to most couples. It's pretty common. "Having disagreements and being able to solve them, while being surrounded by people can show what a healthy relationship looks like," Madison says. It's OK to argue about something that happened earlier on in the day as long as it's not a topic that's emotionally triggering.
Silly Things That Won't Cause Your Loved Ones To Seriously Take Sides
When you argue around your friends and family, they're going to have opinions whether you ask for it or not. Chances are, they're going to take sides. "Family and friends will often take the side of who they know, and can remain angry at your partner long after you've forgiven them," Madison says. So it's best to save the "hot button" topics like issues around sex and money for when you two are alone. If you know it's going to cause a serious divide between the people you know, wait until later.
Things That Don't Push Each Other's Boundaries
As Kelsey M. Latimer, PhD, Founder of
Hello Goodlife, tells Bustle, you can argue about anything you want, as long as you're both comfortable doing so, and fight fair. It's is not only normal, it's part of having a healthy relationship, but it's important to just stay away from things that can push your partner's buttons. "You want to stay away from any behavior that is aggressive or passive aggressive in nature," Dr. Latimer says. "Those are not healthy patterns of communication between two people and can lead to hurt feelings or a sense of defeat in front of others." If you're arguing about something and neither of you is shutting down, it's OK.
When you're in a healthy relationship, you should always feel comfortable enough to express your true feelings and opinions to your partner. They may not agree with you, but they'll still respect you. So according to Dr. Latimer, sharing your feelings with your partner regardless of where you are, is completely fine. "I think it's more about the
how of arguing that determines it if is OK," she says. "Assertive, direct communication that relates specifically to the issue of disagreement is a good rule of thumb to use when disagreeing, particularly in front of others."
Things That Come Up In The Moment
"In general, if couples are upset about small things that pop up in the moment, then those are usual fine to discuss in front of others," Dr. Latimer says. Again, if you can relate it back to an ongoing deeper issue that you're having, it's best to save it for later.
Arguments with your partner will happen, whether you're around people or not. As long as you can do it in a way that's calm and respectful, your relationship will be fine.