Is My Relationship Strong? 7 Disagreements That Actually Suggest It Is
While you don't have to argue with your partner in order to stay connected, getting caught up in the occasional disagreement can mean your relationship is strong. Not only does it show you're comfortable enough with each other to say what's on your mind, but disagreeing can also result in a few changes being made. And that can be one way to ensure you're both feeling good within the relationship.
"Done respectfully, this can help grow the relationship and the couple's commitment to each other," Dr. Rachel Brandoff, PhD, ATR-BC, ATCS, LCAT, a mental health counselor with 17 years of experience, tells Bustle. "Any argument could be a sign of a healthy relationship if the arguing is productive, constructive, and respectful."
It's all about bringing problems out into the open and listening to what the other has to say, without allowing the disagreement to turn into a toxic argument, which could have the potential to damage your relationship, Brandoff says.
Disagreeing can also help you both "retain and display a unique sense of self," she says. It becomes your moment to express opinions, get things off your chest, and bring up any problems that have been simmering beneath the surface. But again, it's all about learning how to argue in a productive way, and not letting it go south.
With that in mind, read on below for a few types of disagreements you and your partner may find yourselves in, and why it can actually make your relationship stronger, according to experts.
1. Figuring Out Your Budget
If you and your partner don't see eye-to-eye when it comes to creating a budget, look at it as a chance to chat about all things financial.
For example, "creating a budget [...] can be daunting," Davida Rappaport, a relationship expert and spiritual counselor, tells Bustle, as can saving money, paying bills, and so on. But the last thing you want is to end up in a situation that doesn't feel fair. So go ahead and speak up, and don't be afraid to disagree until you can land on a plan that feels right.
"When a couple is able to discuss their financial needs and concerns, even if they disagree, they can definitely devise a [plan] that they both can live with comfortably," Rappaport says. And that can mean staying close, instead of feeling angry and being driven apart.
2. Deciding On How Much Time To Spend Together
If you aren't on the same page in terms of how much time to spend together, it's essential to talk about it — and possibly even argue — instead of letting it fester.
"Couples tend to trigger insecurity in one another, but rather than expressing fears and needs, they more often react in ways that lead to a cycle of conflict and tension," Dr. Julie Quimby, licensed psychologist and couples therapist, tells Bustle. This might include shutting down, Quimby says, criticizing each other, or becoming hostile, instead of just talking about it.
"It is a healthy reaction to make a plea for connection, but couples benefit from learning how to do so in a more vulnerable way by learning, acknowledging, and expressing their more vulnerable feelings, needs, and longings," Quimby says.
By bringing it up, however uncomfortable it may feel, this disagreement can result in a better understanding of each other, and what you both need.
3. Striking A Balance With Chores
"A disagreement is an opportunity for a couple to connect in a different way, to communicate and problem solve together to get through it, and eventually make some adjustments," Jaclyn Witmer Lopez, a licensed psychologist, tells Bustle. And one example of this is arguing over household chores.
Typically, disagreements here are "fueled by each partner perceiving they are doing more and that their partner is unfairly dodging their responsibilities," Witmer Lopez says. "While this example may seem minor on the surface, avoidance of conflict and simmering feelings can lead to built-up resentment and hostility if not addressed."
So, even if it means disagreeing at first, talking about chores and reaching an agreement is essential to keeping your relationship strong.
4. Figuring Out Sex & Intimacy
"Another type of disagreement is about sex and intimacy," Lopez Witmer says. "One partner may feel they initiate sex more than their partner, and even question their desirability." And that can have a massive impact on your relationship.
While you're seeing the issue from your perspective, your partner is seeing it from theirs. They may have a different experience of who initiates sex more often and why, Lopez Witmer says, which may directly or indirectly lead to conflict.
That's why, instead of noticing this problem and keeping quiet, you'll want to hash it out. Talking about sex can be tricky at first, but it can lead to a greater sense of closeness, since neither of you will be left guessing.
5. Creating A Work/Life Balance
"If two people are together, living together, and being together, there better be disagreements," Shuli Sandler, PsyD, a licensed psychologist, tells Bustle. "If two people agree on everything, something is wrong. Healthy couples can open up about communication and find ways to talk about areas of conflict, even difficult ones that bring up charged feelings."
And one example of this is a work/life balance, Sandler says. If one of you is constantly prioritizing a job over the relationship, or not respecting the other person's schedule, it can lead to hurt feelings. But if you chat about it frequently, and let these feelings be known, it can mean finding a better balance so everyone's needs are met.
6. Figuring Out How To Spend Your Down Time
Whether you're on a date, on vacation, or simply deciding which movie to watch, it's OK to disagree. "While these arguments can be aggravating, they at least demonstrate a strong desire to spend time together, even if there is some friction regarding the details," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle.
It also offers you a chance to best honest about what you really want, which, again, is another way to keep resentment from forming in your relationship.
7. Discussing Your Communication Style
If you two aren't understanding each other, a discussion about your communication style is in order. Is something not working? Are you feeling incredibly frustrated? Let it all out.
"People communicate in different ways and sometimes partners will talk past each other," Bennett says. "However, arguments over communication are actually a form of communication and show a desire to keep talking."
Not only is it a sign you care, but it can also result in some much-needed information. "By bringing communication differences out in the open," Bennett says, "the couple has the chance to learn each other’s style and make changes."
That is the ultimate goal of disagreeing. It's about feeling comfortable enough to share what's on your mind, potentially arguing a bit, and then reaching a resolution. And that can all result in a stronger relationship.