Experts Say These 7 Tiny Arguments Can Actually Damage Your Relationship
While big arguments can certainly put a damper on your relationship, it's often the small and seemingly insignificant arguments that can add up, and lead to damage that's difficult to overcome. That's because small arguments, if ongoing, tend to create an atmosphere of resentment, which is never good for the long-term health of a relationship. But they can also be a sign of resentment that's bubbling beneath the surface, too.
"This tension, if [not dealt] with, can manifest itself in different forms," dating and transformation coach Myles Scott, tells Bustle. "[For example], when the next argument occurs, the tension from past arguments compounds with the tension from the current argument, and can erupt at the slightest trigger, causing permanent damage to the relationship."
That's why, even if an argument seems small, it's a good idea to talk about why it's happening, while also vowing as a couple to keep the conversation civil and fair. "All couples disagree and arguing can be good for the relationship, as smaller fights can relieve tension and help you to adjust your behavior moving forward," Dr. Jess O'Reilly, Astroglide's resident sexologist, tells Bustle. 'However, if you try to exert power when you fight, make personal attacks, or belittle your partner, it doesn’t matter if you’re fighting about a small issue like traffic or a bigger issue like family — the effects can be equally damaging."
With that in mind, here are the small arguments that can have a surprisingly big impact on a relationship, as well as how to address them, according to experts.
1. Where To Go To Dinner
It's fine to occasionally disagree about which restaurant to go to, or to bicker about what to make for dinner. But you'd be surprised the impact this type of argument can have on a couple, over time.
While it may not seem like a big deal, "it's important that this is a shared responsibility," Michelle Terry, MA, LMHC, tells Bustle. "One person can become resentful if it falls to them every time."
If you're always the one to make dinner, or the decision making always falls on your partner, it can start to seem like you're all alone, she says, which can create a level of resentment that's tough to overcome.
Of course, the problem can be easily prevented by communicating more often, and coming up with a plan to ensure things remain fair going forward.
2. Who Will Do The Dishes
Similarly, "it might seem minor to constantly squabble over doing work around the house (or not doing it)," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "However, if one person insists on order, cleanliness, and a fair distribution of work and the other doesn’t or doesn’t care, it could spell trouble in the long-term."
This can show not only a difference in goals and core values, he says, but it can also lead to a buildup of anger. If that sounds familiar, you may want to create a clear plan for divvying them up. When you both know what's expected of you, this problem will be less likely to tear you apart.
3. How To Spend Money
Not seeing eye-to-eye when it comes to major financial decisions can lead to big problems in a relationship. But small disagreements about everyday spending can have a devastating effect, too, especially if you share a bank account.
When that's the case, you have to have a joint mindset about your finances. As Scott says, "Too often [you] see couples arguing about whether their spending decisions were necessary, mainly because the one who is doing the spending didn't consult with their partner, which, in turn, invokes a fear that they're not thinking as a team player."
Of course, every couple will be different when it comes to what is and isn't OK. But be sure to double check that you're on the same page. If you can keep a running dialogue about spending and finances, it can help prevent a lot of problems — and possibly even a breakup — down the road.
4. How Often You Need To Text
If your partner really wants to text throughout the day, while you're too busy to check your phone, there's a good chance it'll lead to an argument, Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. And this is especially true if you perceive your partner's request as a sign they don't trust you.
To ensure both your needs are being met — and prevent bad vibes — find time to talk about text-related arguments, even if they may seem silly. You'll be glad you did.
5. Feeling Unheard Or Misunderstood
Arguments can crop up when you say something to your partner, only to feel as if they don't quite get it, or aren't fully listening. This is something that happens to a lot of couples, and it tends to result in hurt feelings — and even anger that can be tough to overcome.
The good news is, it's often a sign you simply need to step up your communication game, Dr. Klapow says. Instead of getting frustrated or angry — and creating an even bigger rift in your relationship — find a time to talk about how you both feel.
It's always possible to improve your communication skills. But it can only happen if you make the problem known, and work on it as a couple.
6. Small Betrayals & White Lies
If you catch your partner telling a little white lie (or they catch you) it won't necessarily be the end of the world. But do be honest with yourselves about how it might feel like a small betrayal — and the ripple effect that can have.
"Lying about where they were after work, how much they spent on dinner, what they bought, or even what they meant when they said something can take a toll," Dr. Klapow says. "These arguments can pop up frequently but they begin to erode trust, which is the foundation of the relationship."
It can help to discuss why you felt the need to lie, or why your partner fibbed, and set up boundaries for the future. If you create a space where it's OK to be honest, white lies may not feel as necessary.
7. What Your Social Lives Should Look Like
Do you bicker about your social lives? If so, you might find yourselves arguing about spending time apart, or how often you should go out. And while seemingly insignificant, fights like this can lead to bigger problems, Bennett says.
"[For example,] if one partner has a lot of friends and wants to spend time independently and the other does not, it can lead to a lot of frustration and friction," he says. But if you talk about it, and create healthy boundaries, you can strike a happy balance.
The good thing about small problems is that, however annoying they might be, there's often a clear solution such as vowing to have clearer communication. You have to spot these problems, though, before they get out of hand.
While they may seem tiny, the resentment that can result from these issues can take a big toll, so you'll want to address them as soon as you notice them — and work together to create a healthier relationship.