Relationships

7 Things Couples Fight About That Can Actually Be Healthy

Just don’t bring up past arguments.

Couple arguments about money and the future are very common, and they can be healthy for the relatio...
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Getting into arguments with your significant other sucks, especially when they're ones that have reared their ugly heads in the past. Disagreements can also make you feel like you don't see eye-to-eye with your partner, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Although fighting with your significant other can be disheartening, there are some common couple arguments that are healthy, provided that both parties commit to handling them appropriately.

"Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship, and it doesn’t mean that the relationship is doomed," Megan Cannon, licensed clinical social worker and owner of Back to Balance Counseling tells Bustle. "Having disagreements can lead to resolutions, so why not hash it out when the time comes? Choosing those battles can lead to positive outcomes, as long as you’re choosing the proper battle to fight."

More often than not, the topic you’re arguing about isn’t the real problem, but rather it’s how you fight with your partner that’s the issue, says intimacy coach Irene Fehr.

“In healthy relationships, when couples find themselves in a situation that’s heading towards a fight, they slow down and listen more to each other — not less,” Fehr says. “They get curious. They make an effort to hear each others side of the story and, most importantly, the deep hurt underneath.”

While it’s good to hash out disagreements about your sex life or needing space from family members, these seemingly “healthy” argument can turn unhealthy quickly if either person starts playing the blame game or brings up past fights.

If you’re trying to fight in a healthier way, relationship and communication coach Chloe Ballatore tells Bustle that it’s important to avoid words like “should” and use “I” statements to prevent one person from feeling attacked. “Unhealthy communication refers to language that is blaming and usually begin with the word ‘you,’” she says. For example, “You should have told me you were going to be late tonight,” or “You should have paid the bill last week.” These kinds of statements can cause someone to get defensive, and when someone is playing defense, they’re more likely to say mean things they may regret later. “I” statements, on the other hand, put the focus on you and your feelings. It’s a much softer approach.

Additionally, if you know you’re going to have a difficult conversation with your partner, let them know beforehand. You could say something as simple as, “Hey, I just need to get this off my chest and it might be a little uncomfortable.” You should also choose a neutral time to raise the issue that won’t create more stress for them or put pressure on the situation to be resolved quickly — so the ten minutes before they’re leaving for their friend’s birthday party? Probably not the best idea.

“When you use conscious communication as described above, you can create a foundation for resolving conflict and that makes your relationship stronger than it was before,” Ballatore says.

So if you're worried that your back-and-forth with your partner isn't helping your relationship, don't panic. Here are seven arguments that most couples encounter and might even help your relationship grow stronger if you handle them carefully.

"We Don't Have Sex As Often As We Used To"

If you feel like your sex life with your partner has plateaued, you might be a feeling little frustrated or a little rejected. It's important to remember that sex lulls are totally common, but that doesn't mean they can't be difficult to navigate. This is a touchy issue for some couples, as it’s a vulnerable topic, so it might fuel a small argument.

“Over time, as the excitement of the new relationship fades, new items are added to the routine, and intimacy may lose its place as a top priority,” Cannon says. “Talk about re-prioritizing the routine. There's nothing wrong with letting your partner know you want to feel intimate with them again, and hopefully having this conversation will lead a mutual understanding of how you can meet each other's needs.

“Is There A Way We Could Divide The Household Duties More Equitably?”

If you live together or just often share a space with your partner, how they clean up after themselves can be a big deal, especially if they don't do it well. “Think of messy as a spectrum," Cannon says. "If you’re on the cleaner end, and your partner is in the dumpster zone, they may need a reminder that they share a living space with someone else. Living with someone is a commitment that involves compromise. It’s helpful to revisit this from time to time.” Voicing your concerns about the cleanliness of your space is important, especially if it's causing you stress. Letting this out can result in your partner being more mindful of their habits.

“We Need To Talk About How Much We’re Spending”

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Disagreements pertaining to household finances are one of the most commonly cited reasons for divorce. And while these arguments about money can be intense, it's a good idea to bring up financial concerns or questions to your partner.

"When it comes to taking the plunge on something like a new car or a new house, tensions can run high if either partner disagrees with the decision or the amount of spending," Robyn Koenig, certified professional dating coach, CEO and founder of Rare Find, tells Bustle. “The best way to avoid a heated and potentially disastrous outcome is to share why both partners have their perspective. Perhaps one has put in the effort to do some research and can share new insights that the other hasn’t come across? Or maybe there’s a fresh idea about a long-term financial approach that will help you reach other goals.”

Koenig says that the best way for this conversation to be productive is for both parties to bring all their money ideals to the table, and to go into the discussion with a goal of seeing each other's perspective. If you have a particular financial goal you want to meet — paying for a wedding or a downpayment on a house — keep that in mind while you talk.

“I Didn’t Love The Way Your Family Talked To You About Work”

Being in a relationship with someone usually involves interacting with their family to some degree. For some, this can be a good thing, but for others, this can get annoying — especially if your partner's family is being intrusive. When this is the issue, Cannon advises to set boundaries with both your partner and their family about their involvement within the relationship. In other cases, your concern may have to do more with the dynamic of your partner's family life.

"Discussing someone’s family is a sensitive topic and can easily escalate," Steven Reigns, licensed psychotherapist and founder of Therapy For Adults, tells Bustle. "Family dynamics, even the most unhealthy, can be normalized since those relationship dynamics are all we’ve known. There is also an innate loyalty with family that can easily cause defensiveness. These two traits coupled together cause quick escalation. Discussions with your partner about their family can help you understand their unwritten family rules."

Even though the conversation might be a tough one to have, it’s important for you and your partner to get on the same page about family interactions.

“I Feel Taken For Granted”

When you get into a routine with your partner, it's easy to start feeling like things you do go unnoticed. But if you see a consistent pattern where you’re frequently trying to do nice things for your partner and they're not expressing their gratitude, it can be disheartening. "Never stop showing or expressing appreciation," Cannon says, "It’s easy to get caught up in the daily hustle, and take certain things for granted. Remind your partner that their appreciation and acknowledgement keeps you energized to keep contributing." Your partner might not even realize that they're being dismissive of your efforts, and letting them know how you’re feeling can make a difference.

“That's Not What I Want For My Future”

When you start talking to your partner about the future, conversations about marriage, kids, and living arrangements can come up. It's important to know what your partner's stances are on these things, so you can determine if your life goals are compatible. Ashley Chambrello, licensed marriage and family therapist tells Bustle, "Whether or not to have kids and share a family together is an important issue and should be discussed. If this is not discussed, it can develop into resentment in the future. The goal of this argument, as with most other arguments, should be to understand why your partner believes what they do." This argument can even help you determine if a future with your partner is viable.

“I Wish We Spent More Quality Time Together”

As adults in a relationship, you’re always battling busy schedules, and sometimes work, hobbies, and other social engagements can cut into quality one-on-one time with your partner. If you notice that your significant other isn’t prioritizing doing things with you, it's important to speak up, especially because this could set the precedent for how your relationship will function in the future. Plus, your partner might not be aware that you’re feeling a little neglected. "We aren't going to agree with our partner 100% of the time, but it's important to find compromise, especially with issues that will last a long time," Chambrello says.

At the end of the day, disagreements and arguments can help you learn more about your partner and what you both want out of your relationship, but the outcome depends on how you approach these conversations. They can be healthy, but only if they are done constructively.

Sources

Megan Cannon, licensed clinical social worker and owner of Back to Balance Counseling

Ashley Chambrello, licensed marriage and family therapist

Robyn Koenig, certified professional dating coach, CEO and founder of Rare Find

Steven Reigns, licensed psychotherapist and founder of Therapy For Adults

Chloe Ballatore, relationship and communication expert